I can show you where to find it.
Every foreign investor has an idea of the risks of investing in third world countries. Private investors providing technology, roads, railway lines or running viable enterprises such as mines and farms in developing countries will tell you nevertheless that it can be profitable.
The rapid growth of countries like Brazil, Russia, India and China – the BRIC, which accounted for 30 percent of global increase in output between 2001 and 2008 makes investing in developing countries worth considering regardless of the risks. The third world is also attractive to volunteers seeking opportunities to expand their international experience.
But where exactly is Third world?
I live in Nigeria, a country I do not consider poor and pathetic enough to qualify as a third world country. Yet on a daily basis I experience the third world. This has become part of my journey to identity.
I had one of such experiences while in traffic yesterday. I drove behind a sleek black Benz GT class car with a bold sticker on its booth which read God have mercy on Nigeria. My thoughts initially were, Indeed. With the increasing number of street traders, waste heaps, decaying infrastructure and high mortality rates, this country truly needs God’s intervention.
But before that thought rested, the driver’s arm stuck right out of the window of the Benz and wham! He flung out an empty squashed up plastic water bottle. The bottle dropped right on my windscreen, blocking my view as the vehicles ahead began moving slowly.
God have mercy on YOU! I vented. Where on earth did this Mercedes-cruising-bushman come from anyway?
This incident and similar ones have led me to make shifts about my definition of Third world.
Shift 1. Third world minds exist in First world people
How can you explain that a person who drives a $99,000 car would turn into a primitive man throwing thrash out of a moving vehicle? One would think that someone who had experienced to an affluent lifestyle would have some decorum even if they didn’t care about the environment.
These kinds of people are among the elites, residents of posh areas in developing and advanced societies. They travel and have international exposure. Nevertheless, the culture of an organised society does nothing to diminish their tolerance for indecency and questionable social standards.
Shift 2. First-class minds come from the Third world too
It is common knowledge that third world countries typically have the least powerful passports in the world. The irony is that some of these countries supply the most advanced countries with highly skilled migrant labor.
The ingenuity of citizens of such countries whether used rightly for the invention of the world’s fastest supercomputer as Phillip Emeagwali did or wrongly like the 80 almost Nigerian cyber criminals recently busted by the FBI, goes to show that a lack of technological advancement does not simply qualify a place as Third world.
Shift 3. The Third world mindset is not exclusive to immigrants
Arthur Kemp writes about how third world immigration is destroying the first world and what must be done to stop it in his book the immigration invasion. He proposed that Europe needed to embark on a political revolution to reclaim their homeland. This is premised on the fear that a third world immigration tsunami threatens the extinction of European people and their civilization.
In reality however, immigrants play an important role in growing the economy apart from the diversity and socio-cultural contributions they bring to their host countries.
Immigrants have a remarkable determination integrate. Leaving home for a foreign land can be tough but through resilience they strive to blend into a society that is prejudiced. I would like to think that it is not in their interest to jeopardize the opportunity of living in a foreign land by willfully subverting the system.
Shift 4. Ultimately, the Third world is not a geographical location.
It is a rational reaction to criticize the poor sanitary standards in slums of Mumbai, India or Mathare in Kenya but there’s really no boundary that delimits a third world mindset to these regions.
Third world exists in middle class urban areas of industrialized countries too, societies where civic responsibilities are a way of life and exist even in absence of enforcement. These kinds of people need to be threatened with punishment to be decent.
They keep police and law enforcement agents active. I believe they can still be found in places like Switzerland which has no police force and of course, three hundred and eight miles away in Paris you will find them as motorists barreling into pedestrians at zebra crossings.
If third world were a place, Malaysia would probably be one. Its no longer strange in Malaysia to find people who mess up public recreational areas and those who disregard signs that say no littering, no smoking or car spaces designated for disabled persons.
Shift 5. Third world is a label
Culture, history, natural resources, weather and everything that makes the world so diverse ought to make countries interdependent. It is my firm belief that no country has it all.
However, inequality threatens the prospect of a world without labels and stereotypes. Inequality is the reason there was ever a first, second and third world.
The labels say Africa is a ridden with disease and poverty, Asia the hub of all terrorism and Latin America the den of murderous drug dealers. Labels.
Granted, poverty is a problem in many African countries but Nigeria and South Africa for instance, have at one time or another had higher GDPs than some developed countries. Poverty in Africa is rarely due to a lack of wealth but rather due to failure to distribute wealth evenly.
As a result, citizens of Africa and many developing countries have become victims of selfish leaders. Leaders who abandon the crippling healthcare system in their countries while their families enjoy the best medical care abroad. They have been the bane of the advancement of the so-called Third world. Sadly.
In my keenness to find the culprit who coined third world in the first place, I found it was originally used during the Cold war to describe countries that were not aligned with the communist bloc or NATO. But that was twenty eight years ago. Today, what makes a Third world to some commentators are the high poverty rates, economic instability, lack of basic human resources compared to the rest of the world. For the most part the phrase has become a pejorative.
But if you’ve read this far hoping to see what countries qualify as Third world, this is my advice. Travel. Don’t go googling third world and soak up everything you read. The best way to make a decision about investing in the less industrialised countries is to actually set your feet on the soil.
Experience for yourself the beautiful beaches of Mexico. Explore the cocoa, coffee and cotton farms of Togo. If the tariff-free access for exported products from Haiti to US is not attractive to you then the precious diamonds of Guinea might be worth it. Keep an open mind.
Third world people are not necessarily Africans, Asians, Latin Americans or the Caribbeans.
Like I said earlier, Third world is a mindset.
It shows up in different skin colours and race. It is in people who would not utilise their potential for good. They do not care how their actions impact the community they live in. I think they should be in a world that is exclusively theirs, the Third world. What do you think?