Access to Goods

It’s tough to develop a society where the goods can’t be trusted to last. Where goods fail and people must constantly rebuild in order to maintain a fragile status quo, is it possible to build a First World or Second World future?

I spent a few hundred dollars in a Colorado hardware store over the last few days buying some material to make a home improvement.  As I walked around the store I was amazed at the differences in what is available in the US, in quality, quantity and price in contrast with with what is available in East Africa.  It’s no comparison.  There is no big store in East Africa that carries the variety of goods needed for home repair.  Its’ just not there.

Moreover, the goods that are in the stores are expensive and of strikingly poor quality in contrast.  We both get our goods from the same place – China.  So what is the difference?  I asked a store keeper in Kenya about this discrepancy, and he pointed out that the shopkeepers in Africa don’t have access to the same quality of goods.  They receive the lower quality products from China and other manufacturing bases.   They don’t have the purchasing muscle to buy the good stuff, inexpensively. . . . and then there is transportation.  Expensive and unpredictable.

A "Mall" in Juba, Sudan

Its tough for a developing country to develop without access to goods.  But is it impossible?  or does this simply create a longer gradient path? Or is it a an economic barrier?

One thing is certain, it is tough to build things where the goods can’t be trusted to last.


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