Sample Urban Studies Paper on Globalization Shaped the Nature of Conflict in Africa


The subject of whether globalization is impacting conflict escalation or advancing more conflict than resolving it is a stand-off in globalization discourse. Though it fosters the belief that the human’s interest would best be aided if the world markets are left unimpeded by moral, environmental, ethical or social consideration (Mamba, Jordaan & Clance 2015, p.2), there is an interaction between globalization and conflict. The markets have provided the means of acquiring weapons to impair the local conditions, as factions seek to exploit the natural resources. The ideological themes such as democratization and marketization introduced into local politics by globalization trigger religious and ethnic conflict as the groups seek to influence power in a recasting environment. Seemingly, globalization virtually pulls all identity groups out of their different degrees of isolation, pushing them into ecumenism of global currents and obligation to redefine according to the global trends. The world society is becoming more physically inter-connected, and the consensus of priority and fundamental values split by conflict beyond the disputes between countries previously, as suggested by the undecided and contested encounter with inherited local identities and flows of global culture (Schonthal 2016, p.16).

This paper seeks to traverse the role of globalization in fuelling conflicts in Africa. It cuts across the five African states namely; Congo, Nigeria, Libya, Ghana and Ethiopia located in the sub-Saharan region of Africa. The area stands as the most affected by globalization for over three decades (Maruba 2008, p.8) in matters of technology, trade, economic development and culture, and the position of neo-colonists and Warlords in shaping the ideological progress of the countries since the 1960s. It also evaluates the armed conflicts; various actors and factors which majorly contribute to insecurity in armed conflict situations of Sub-Saharan Africa. Also, it examines the institutions, practices, existing systems and processes that militate and promote adverse effects of globalization and the much needed cohesive power to restore political stability and build peace in the entire continent of Africa.


The first desolate experience of African people with the Europeans began during the era of European industrial revolution and the political expansion of trade in sub-Saharan Africa by Europe (Reno 2011, p.21). Political balkanization by the European colonial rule is another experience which caused political devastation in Africa in the 19th century. As a result, religious and ethnic discord emerged in all territories occupied by European stamps, besides the looting of mineral and natural resources therein (Clapham 1996, p.28). The political colonial rule diminished because communism posed threats to the ideology of traditional European capitalist under which Europe exploited Africa. The colonial powers departed after the ensuing cold war but left Africa dismally reliant on Europe economically and politically as well as split by the two cold war ideologies (Olufaji 2013, p.26). It also fashioned an instrument that created unending struggles in the nation spaces and ethnic stocks of the African people. The packaging of that instrument varies as political and economic systems of social ills panacea presently gains globalization nomenclature.

The militarization growth of Africa took a dangerous turn in the use of soft weapons, and participation of child soldiers in the contention to govern mineral resources (Clapham 1996, p.33). Apparently, tolls of ethnic conflicts have had happened in Nigeria, Somalia and Ethiopia (Laudati 2013, p.40). These conflicts have impacted African nations by undermining social cohesion and national solidarity. Globalization has caused deteriorating changes in most sovereign states of Africa on the eve of the cold war driving the agenda of warfare even today, for example, the ethnic aroused by Al Shabaab militants in Somalia (Williams 2016, p.7).

Logics of Globalization operating on Flows in Africa

Goods and Capital

Globalization has facilitated in accelerating economic growth in many African countries, but wars, conflicts, corruption, inadequate innovations and incompetent human capital, cultural practices and unstable system of politics hinder continuation of development oppressing social and economic progress (Mamba, Jordaan&Clance 2015, p.11).  The trend of mismanagement and poor governance in the continent of Africa arouses all these flows. These trends result in impeding the capacity of progress in the continent in regards to handling the landscape of modern economy and manipulation of the globalization impacts to benefit the citizens (Munkler 2004, p.24). The struggle of African economy is attributable to the little benefits the nations get from globalization when compared to other advanced countries. Despite the fact that Africa remains the region with plenty of resources, it is the poorest continent in the world because of the negative reputation or legacy of the politicians in Africa who mismanage and poorly govern these countries repelling the fortunes of attaining developmental goals. In 2015, Congo lost $750 million of revenues to corruption (Taylor 2012, p.43).

According to Amoah (2011, p.79), the logic and structural adjustment of the market, marginalization and debt crisis escalates the process of globalization. These have reduced the state’s role of providing employment and social welfare, and consequently the currency devaluation, promotion of inflation and jobs cut; meaning that the purpose of the country in managing the economy is down-sized (Carmody 2010, p.13). According to Francis (2013, p.198), globalization may cause the local and national inequalities to increase if the resource distribution remain as it is currently.

After centuries of slavery, exploitation, excruciating poverty, marginalization and colonization, politicians in Africa have not yet held the essence of manipulable globalization (Chisadza & Bittencourt 2015, p.6). All parts of the African economy have taken horrendous toll of relative economic retardation. Besides, the African continent welcomes a considerable dose of negative globalization impacts advertently. Many gains of opportunities in the liberal globalization are also limited by the nature of the economy, allowing the African continent to tolerate exploitation of natural resources and providing dumping sites of industrial wastes (Okpalaobi 2014, p.43).  The African economy lacks value creation and innovation giving opportunities for lopsided relationships and miscalculations.

The total reliance on the foreign businesses has had a negative impact of globalization in the economy of Africa. They habitually employ foreign companies to execute almost all their infrastructural projects. Foreign firms carry out most of the projects in Africa that need technical know-how. For instance, Chinese companies are the primary bidders of railway construction projects in Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria and Libya, while few African firms are hired to perform these projects of construction (Olufemi 2013, p.69). Great civilizations form a hallmark of excellent development of enterprises, but the attempts by the African governments to promote local organizations and firms to take front-line in infrastructure, economic and social development have become futile. The struggle of African enterprises has led to increased dependency on the aids from foreigners and the net loss of the economy of Africa. According to Langdon:

The Ghanaian government has relied on foreign countries over the years in undertaking strategic infrastructural projects including the small projects such as the building of housing. After getting the tenders, these foreign enterprises sub-contract local firms in Ghana to carry out the plan at a small fraction of the budget, which ends up draining the wealth of Ghana to these countries. An atypical case of these projects is a 1.5 billion US dollars housing contract awarded to the STX company from South Korea (2010, p.332). The failure of African countries to rely on the local competent labour force to undertake essential construction projects is very precarious for the economy.


The revolution of information and the increased knowledge hubs have led to a new era, such that information and knowledge across all the nations of Africa directly affects the social, economic, political and cultural activities. Globalization benefits those with resources, market access, information, contacts and technology; however, it has adverse impacts on the poor. The gap between the losers and new winners in the world economy dominated by knowledge and information is getting more significant than the difference of development between undeveloped countries and the advanced nations. As a result, African countries that fall under the segment of developing countries end up being marginalized by the globalization of technology regarding economy transformation (Barnes & Kaplinsky 2000, p.785).  The emergence of technology in Africa has led many countries to suffer, not directly from globalization, but from its adverse effects. Some of these effects include unemployment, community disintegration and loss of identity. DR Congo is a country with the highest cases of poverty in the world caused by unequal distribution of technology (Reno 2011, p.247). The aspect of globalization and ICT in developing countries is an uneven distribution of benefits between the undeveloped nations and the developed ones. Thus, the impoverished countries share none of these benefits of technology.

The diffusion of technology into Africa is gradually widening the margin between the developing nations and the information-rich advanced ones. African continent contributes about 13 percent of the earth’s population, but only a small percent have access to telecommunication and 1 percent internet connection (Keen 2008, p.149). Poverty has hindered Africa from reaping the global benefits of society’s information and its economy in areas of health, commerce, rural development, education and others. In Africa, ICT is limited since availability and participation in global economy induced by ICT is hindered. The unequal access to technology contributes to the marginalization of the African countries. The disruption of the social fabric causes ‘digital slavery’ in the continent; for instance, in Somalia where a few who had access to new technology (Al Shabaab militants) used it to advance killings isolating other residents (Alzouma 2005, p.350). The disparity in the application and availability of ICT in Africa and the globalization influence exerted by technology raises the issues of societies and organizations’ homogeneity in Africa. It also raises the concepts of desirability and feasibility of endeavour to implement the ICT development through the transfer of the best systems from the industrialized western nations to countries that are undeveloped, and the utilization of ICT according to the contexts of socio-cultural requirements (Addo 2003, p.12).

Digital Slavery

Slavery is a social body defined by custom and law as the most unreserved involuntary disposition of human servitude. It is a state of one human being owned by another. Digital slavery refers to significant barriers to practical use of technology in Africa as compared to its use in developed countries. By addressing these barriers the benefit of technology would be realized. The endemic obstacles of technology include processes of learning, gaining experience and generational gap. The challenges of general and poor computer literacy, the poor infrastructure of telecoms; inadequate regulations and internet awareness face African nations hindering the application of ICT. The image of globalization is one of the most persuasive and influential of the time; yet it is the most ill-defined concept (Ogunsola 2005, p.7). There is the rugged use of technology where African countries have been left behind regarding equality, presence, development, and income on a world stage of digitization; for example in Congo only around 30% of the population has access to communication using mobile phones.

The ICT has acted as a social leveller which overwhelms economic inequalities and erases cultural barriers. Advanced technology also places unequal human beings to a common platform, and this makes ICT the most potent tool for democratizing (Ogunsola 2005, p.8). From the benefits of technology, developed countries usually take the most significant share while the least percentage goes to developing states of Africa. The wealthy nations features sufficient access to health services, education, social security, clean water and employment while the African countries lack these facilities due to technological disparities (Alzouma 2005, p.341). Globalization and technology promise transformations but instead cause severe destabilization of forces in African continent by lowering the rate of economic development, instability of exchange rates, and double-digit rates of inflation, poverty and massive unemployment.

Effects of Globalization on Raw Materials, Energy and Mineral Resources and manufacturing in Africa

Raw Materials, Energy and Mineral Resources

The level of violence caused by the warlords depends on the type of resource or the nature of their organization’s income. They seek to control valuable natural resources or rely on local taxes or rents from the population (Cammett, M.C., 2007). Some develop a monopoly over easily extractable resources such as timber and surface minerals, and others seek to control materials such deep mines, that even require sophisticated technologies to extract (Zack-Williams et al. 2006, p.33). The capabilities of the warlords determine the type of the resource interested in; the density of the supply, frequency, and location also dictates the kind of violence they cause to control it successfully.  In mining, they overtake and guard the area by disrupting the settlements of populations to access the resources on the ground. Their access to the commercial market is relevant, and amplifies their economic success using the modern technology. For instance, mobile phones connect the zone of warlords in Congo with the brokers (Olufemi 2013, p.51). They are also related to the international markets, and this has changed their relationship to the locale and enhanced violent behaviour against the populations (Reno 1999, p.111). The modern trade networks, usually illicit, tremendously heighten their ability to be isolated from the state and remain connected internationally. The warlords build contractual relations with the population by seeking labour, crops, and livestock, machinery and tools as well military service and taxes. In return, they supply the locals with infrastructure, education, shelter, transport, and protection. They transform their territory into a ‘quasi-government’ or a civilian administration.

Globalization has led to overstretched capacity to protect and regulate the environment. The potential of most African nations to handle issues of global warming, harmful chemicals, dumping nuclear wastes, organic agricultural destruction and depletion of natural resources is limited. Global actors are expanding and investing in their activities, especially those related to mining, exploitation of forest, fishing, industries and agriculture up to the regulatory capacity of African countries administrations. The nations are caught at the centre of the need to speed advancement through modernization of agriculture, exploitation of resources and others, and the force by global and local environmentalist groups (Ibrahim 2013, p.89). The global powers are therefore putting pressure on African states to do what is beyond their capacity rather than strengthen the ability of these governments in relevant aspects.

Manufacturing in Africa

Globalization has had negative impacts on the African industrial sectors. Most of the commodities are manufactured in overseas than being made locally, and the import charges imposed on these products make them expensive. According to Addo (2003, p.8), the openness to foreign trade advances the levels of poverty and distribution of income among the countries. The dimension of the globalized economy has been the driving force behind the social and political aspects. For example, the European powers entered into Africa through colonization bringing in the footprints of the industrial revolution of Europe; the introduction of machine production in Ghana and Nigeria increased efficiency in production but made the European to gain dominance and tremendous economic prosperity in those countries (Call 2011, p.309). The single concept of the process of colonization was to foster an integrated economy in the world, but under the control of the modern countries as a result of changes of revolution in the organization of European production which had a competitive edge over all other nations of the world. Globalization concept describes the manner in which economies of different countries of the world integrate and interrelate into a larger cooperative of the economy. It implies a stretching of political, economic and social activities across boundaries such as activities; dimensions and events in a given region of the world can be of significance to communities and individuals in distant areas around the globe (Maruba 2008, p.61).

The industrialization centrality to the national development of economy informed policies aimed at making Africa an industrialized state (Harman & Brown 2013, p.83). Nigeria embarked on a first industrial strategy aimed at reducing over-reliance on save foreign exchange and foreign trade by fortifying production of formally imported commodities. The policy was meant to protect the country from surplus goods from other advanced economies and against the adverse effects of globalization. Albeit, its implementation was inadequate and led to the emergence of other industrial policies such as the indigenization policy created in 1972 and 1977 (Duffield 2014, p.204).

Role of Warlords in the globalization of Africa

The standard and essential features of warlords are usually “lords of war” (Reno 1999, p.79). These are local strongmen who operate their territory-like locales, sovereign from the state, and instead of war they only need a political vacuum. The warlords are easily typified operating under ‘armed’ as opposed to apparent conflict and use persistent violence threats to secure political and military position. Warlords can be categorized as an individual or an organization and have characteristics of power centeredness, control over geographic space, state independence, and perpetuation of violence to maintain the position.

In Africa, Warlordism emerged during the independence and the end of anti-colonial movements and became more prevalent on the eve of the Cold War (Reno 2011, p.34). Its rise denoted the ideological pleas declination for Africa’s ‘national liberation’ and the splitting of many ‘quasi-states’ of post-colony. Majority of African warlords emanated from political leaders of factions who operated at the national level (Kaldor& Hampson 1999, p.16). They emerged for the weakest and poorest states such as Somalia 1990s, where the former Somali army, Yusuf, became very powerful and forced the then-Prime minister Mohamed Gedi to resign in a political struggle. Also, the DR Congo in 2000 and 1990s – the former General of DRC forces, Laurent Nkunda, served as a leader of a rebel faction. The removal of the superpower interest in sub-Saharan Africa caused acceleration of state’s breakdown and devolution of the capital city by the government rule (Laudati 2013, p.43). The political vacuums in the regions of Africa led to the rise of rebel groups and warlords, and the members of these organizations occurred where the leaders of political factions or national military members defected and sought alternative power base (Cammett 2007, p.17). These soldiers defect because of frustrations in their working conditions, especially failure to be climbed up the rank or low income (Le Billon 2008, p.353). As the members with low levels of education, they opt to violence as the only living alternative.

Political Unrest

In Africa, warlords are archetypical actors in the literature of post-Cold War. Typically, illegitimacy, selfish greed, and lack of ideology and perpetuation of violence fuels warlordism. This intellectual movement is apparent in African civil wars which quote rebels as people motivated by desire. On the other hand, the West seems to legitimize the warlords of Africa; for example in the early 1990s when the UN in Somalia went to negotiate with warlords in Mogadishu instead of clan leaders who had political legitimacy (Abbink 2003, p.409). A societal misunderstanding of the US commanders made a reflection which yielded disastrous outcomes of granting political legitimacy to warlords over the established local mechanism of authority. For example in Libya, NATO failed to support the administration of Gaddafi but lined with anti-movement implying legitimization of these actors at the international level (Cheru 2002, p.159).

Public Administration

Undermining Power of State

Governments in Africa find themselves in critical situations when making individual decisions and policies. International institutions like IMF, United Nations, World Trade Organization and World Bank take binding decisions on countries (Ibrahim 2013, p.90). These tend to erode the power of African states, minimizing their voices, and strengthening and increasing the capabilities of world bodies.

Democratizing of Governments, Societies and Political Systems

International partners working in a globalized world are barely democratic. Democratizing require the people of the country to participate in the process of making policies and decisions on the issues that concern them. Mainly, the imposed decisions by the players of globalization affect African continent today. One typical example is that of privatization and liberalization policies in Africa. The decisions made by the world bodies such as the IMF, World Bank, and WTO (Nordstrom 2004, p.71) contradict the rhetoric they speak about democracy and the choices they make and contribute to the dilemma faced by African leaders.

Difficult Task of Eradicating Poverty

Globalization has made the task of eradicating poverty difficult. Global actors are pressurizing African countries to open up for maximization of capital inflows, and foreign investment. The local enterprises and big multinationals end up utilizing this environment for their interest giving no room for the states to eradicate or pay attention to poverty amongst the people (Nordstrom 2004, p.225). As a result, the gap between the rich and the poor continues to widen.

Social Demands and Public Expectations

The interaction between the global actors and local socio-political and economic forces generates different or new demands from African societies causing more pressure on the administration to re-adjust to meet these demands (Abrahamsen & Williams 2008, p.541). For instance demand for accountability, transparency, clean environment, gender equality, democracy, freedom and human rights. Other needs include competent leadership, poverty eradication, efficient service delivery and application of new approaches to public management in administration. The demands are in most cases expressed by civil societies and private sectors both internationally and nationally, regardless of the cost it would take to meet them which is often beyond the capacities of African countries. Also, these demands from international circles are in different lines with the real contexts in Africa.

Main Actors of Globalization

United States

The United States is the world’s principal actor of globalization and remains unchallenged as the economic leader, a position held since the 1980s when many Americans developed doubts about the competitiveness of the United States (Strauss & Saavedra 2009, p.20). The critical role of the U.S in globalization lies with its economic engagement with the African countries. The immense economic potential of Africa, expansion of infrastructure and increasing global markets integration provides a remarkable opportunity for America’s investment and trade ties across the continent. African countries are committed to overcoming challenges of diversified economies, global and regional economic and innovation to overcome barriers to investment and trade. The U.S is committed to partner with Africa to overcome these barriers through power Africa, Trade Africa, and Business in African Campaign making the U.S the principal actor of the globalization of Africa.


China is another principal actor of globalization in Africa, with its involvement based on investments, aid, and trade. However, there are fears that China is only interested in its exports which ends up threatening the local industries in Africa. Its efforts are displacing the traditional partner, the U.S in areas of infrastructure and telecommunication, although China has claimed its central vision is to develop the natural resources of Africa. The adverse effects of China-Africa relationship are the increased exports causing the local firm such as garments to leave the market (Strauss & Saavedra 2009, p.22)


France targeted to double its trade in Africa from then 10 billion Euros and also increase its aid to the continent from 10billion Euros between 2008 and 2013 to 20 billion Euros in the next five years. The 171 French schools in Africa have also attracted the support of France’s soft power. Countries teaching French curriculum are attractive to French investors and political elites (Bodomo 2017, p.9)

Conclusion and Recommendations

The impacts of globalization to the adverse circumstances of sub-Saharan Africa are evident judging from the international analysis. The democratization process and the structural adjustment programmes of the 1990s in Africa are the pivots upon which process of globalization revolves. These socio-cultural, political and economic reforms of collectivism and openness limit and undermine the capacity of the sovereign states of Ethiopia, Ghana, Libya, Somalia, Nigeria and Congo (Berdal& Malone 2000, p.189) as demonstrated by the study. The emergence of economic crisis depicted on these states and the response by Western forces using global institutions of finance, notably the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, to inflict adjustments of programmes structurally, has led the continent to be controlled by imperialists (Zeleza 2003, p.19). The West is no longer afraid of asserting imperialism with globalization. Particular steps need to be taken to access the globalization benefits while eliminating dislocation, disruption, disparities, and destabilization and focus on the current global trends of technology to avoid ‘digital slavery.’ The enterprises and African countries need to manage globalization by developing institutional arrangement and mechanisms of creating awareness of pace, nature, implications, and consequences of globalization changes. Teams of experts from these governments, private sectors and academia need to be appointed to analyze and disseminate information and monitor the trends, implications, structure, and consequences of globalization and recommend the necessary policy actions (De Waal 2009, p.109). The internet can also serve as a source for educating the children and the youths to ensure that they are at par with the global trends. The agenda of preparedness for globalization should include a heavy emphasis on the development of internet infrastructure and telecommunication not only in the five sub-Saharan countries but also in the African continent as a whole.




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