Is Africa a Poor Continent?

The word “Africa” has been literally substituted by some westerners to mean poverty. Africa has over the centuries and decades been regarded as the wretched man of the house whom without others cannot independently cope; a place where the western countries can only come to if they feel they have some humanitarian issues to solve by bringing in some bags of foodstuffs and donating some money to the African populace. Most of this is boosted by the thousands of search words that flood the internet, especially Google seeking answers as to the reason for which the African continent is so buried in poverty and if there could be any solutions to come off this situation on the continent. Foreign media have equally made things worse through most of the biased reports that are being made on the continent. The “Dark continent” as is widely known by the outside world, is often depicted as a country plagued by countless wars, continues natural disaster crisis such as famine, earthquakes, floods, landslides and also man made crisis caused especially by the fraudulent leaders that are mostly seen as highly dictatorial and highly corrupt with little or no regards at all for human rights of their citizens. But however, you may ask yourself, how really is the situation of poverty in Africa like at present? and what has been done to actually limit this allegedly growing poverty in the African continent by the “rich ones”. Many pundits have argued that Africa may not be poor after all but just may be poorly managed. If this is the case with the African continent, then why is Africa literally so rich but in reality so poor?

  • Europe has rendered Africa poor

Someone somewhere may be asking some rhetorical questions to himself. Why is it that one of the richest or the even the richest continent in the world in terms of natural resources has the most wretched and poorest countries in the world today? Why is it that a continent which is literally the powerhouse in terms of agricultural productivity has some of the worst hunger stricken countries?, why is it that the continent with the most populated number of youths who could be used to increase the labor force to foster economic growth still has to lose most of its work force to the Mediterranean in attempt to go for greener pastures in Europe and the United States? Well, most of these questions are adequately answered when we go back to the history of colonial Africa. There is simply no way to get a rundown of the circumstances that left Africa in shambles the way it is today. We more often than not seem to have very little patience for the history of the African continent and the impacts of these past events on the contemporary society. In the early 1400’s the Portuguese became the first Europeans to land on the coasts of the African continent, rendering the land into a slave poaching park where they could come get slaves for their plantations back there in their continent and equally in their sugar cane plantations off the coast of West Africa. From then till the 18th century when the barbaric practice was abolished, this barbaric activity would be the basis through which the Europeans would by large handicap the economic activity of the African continent, through which the Europeans used to lay the foundation for their presently booming economy and highly advanced infrastructure to the detriment of the African continent. During this era of slave trade, an estimated 11 million African inhabitants were forcefully taken out of their continent to the Americas where they worked as laborers in different farms and as house helps in their various master’s residence. That number alone is already more than the population of Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, the Gambia and Chad combined, taken to Europe for slavery. Some pundits have suggested that the countries with the highest degree of poverty in Africa are the countries in which the most slaves were taken out of by the Europeans. The enslavement of the black Africans in America and the West Indies made way for another brutal system. The pinch of European colonization of the African continent is mostly very evident in Sub-Saharan Africa, mostly with the former French colonies in the continent. Some of the poorest countries in the supposedly poorest continent are French colonies, with only former British colonies doing a lot better in terms of economic and infrastructural development. Britain’s Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson back in 2002 even said that looking at its former colonies in Africa, the only regrets he has is they are not in charge any more. Statistics in 2016 in the YouGov poll agreed to the statement stating that Britain’s colonial had something to be proud of.

  • 75% of the world’s poorest countries are found in Africa

As you think of it and ask yourself why Africa is in poverty, when literally it could galvanize both natural and human resources in order to become a world economic powerhouse, you just can’t help but wonder why. Most of the supposedly poor countries on the African continent suffer from numerous crisis like starvation and political crisis such as the continuous clamor for regime change. The poorest African countries are Zimbabwe, Liberia and Ethiopia meanwhile the Central African Republic is the poorest country in the world as of present, with a Gross Domestic Product, GDP per capita  of just $656 recorded in the year 2016.

  • The highest number of people living in extreme poverty are found in Sub-Saharan Africa

It is amazing how the continent with the most human and economic resources still happens to harbor the most number of poor citizens around the world. Starvation in Africa, droughts, natural as well as man-made disasters often always characterize the African countries of the Sub-Sahara especially. These people who live in extreme poverty have as a defined daily budget that shape their living standard per day at $1.25 or even for less. According to the Gallup World in 2013, the 10 countries with the most proportion of citizens living in extreme poverty are found on the African continent, all of them being in the Sub-Saharan region of the continent. This claim though is still very visible in the Africa of contemporary society. African countries are always at the receiving end of every loan being handed out by the European powers most often than not to use in the economic and infrastructural development of their various countries and sub-regions. Most of these evidences by both African and European pundits will always point to the fact that Africa could be the poorest continent, with the poverty in Africa not set to leave any time soon if some of these artificial plagues brought about are not handled. The World Bank in 2010 stated that those living within the Sub-Saharan region of Africa accounted for over 48% of those surviving on 1.25$ a day

  • The Unending level of corruption on the African continent

When anyone gets of corruption, that person would definitely also think about the African continent and its very unpopular records when it comes to the levels of corruption on this continent. The question of “why is Africa so poor?” could be blamed by large to the high existence of corruption on the African continent. It is no longer becoming a new phenomenon for state officials to be prosecuted on the basis of corruption and heavy mismanagement of public funds. African countries like Nigeria and Cameroon have on sporadic occasions topped the chart for the world’s most corrupt countries, this very evident in their economies, as large loans are on yearly basis taken from the World Bank for infrastructural and economic projects to be carried out, but with very little or nothing to show for in its implementation. The amounts of money entering and leaving the African continent really can’t help someone but think why is Africa in poverty?  Corruption obviously is the only possibility. Senior leaders in the government have resorted to taking of bribes and granting of unmerited favors to highly incompetent authorities. A survey carried out by transparency international even points out to the fact that most African nations are not able to meet up with their citizen’s expectations because of the rampant levels of corruption on the continent, with the most corrupt groups of people in most of these government being the police force. Corruption in a country like Cameroon for instance is every day growing and always vibrant. There have been many cases of state officials in the country to have been tried and handed over prison sentences because of many corruption charges with the most popular of them being the mismanagement of public funds and embezzlement.

Education and the knowledge gap in Africa

Education in Africa like in other parts of the world is the most important activity that everyone in one way or the other gets involved into. Though considered very basic and very important in the African society, not everyone on this continent can afford to get basic education. Sometimes, the need for education in some African communities is marred by the need to solve other plaguing crisis like droughts, and other man caused humanitarian crisis like war situations. Poverty in Africa has actually spurred some governments to take it upon them to make affordable education in their countries a major necessity, involving it in their yearly budgets. There is a high lack of schools in where is considered the poorest continent, and even where there happen to be some schools, they more often than not very sparse, with very little few tools that a standard school should possess for effectiveness. The distances to schools are very far. This discourages potential school goers who intend decide to remain home. This lack of affordable education in Africa contributes immensely to the continuous poverty in Africa especially hurting the economy as there finally is no skilled labor to take up the economy to the level of the European nations and enough to enhance their entire infrastructure. The lack of par technology on the African continent is also a big drawback to the alleviation of poverty in Africa. What Africa needs is highly skilled-based technology which is grounded and globally competitive. A greater majority of Africans are not employed today because they have not been adequately educated and equally lack technical skills, though corruption, nepotism and tribalism too play a high part when it comes to raising the unemployment level in the African continent, reason why it is and would always be considered the poorest continent if the inadequacies are not adjusted.

  • Health and poverty condition of Africa

If the question of “why is Africa so poor?” should be answered, then the health condition of the continent would seriously have to be looked into, if any condition has to change in the future. If the whole continent needs to move ahead in the fostering of the living condition of Africans, then health should be within reach and affordable to Africans. If these are not properly handled, then the economy risks stagnating. Poverty too is a major cause for health upset on the African continent. It is both the cause and consequence of poor health, as poor living conditions of Africans contributes significantly in increasing the chances of poor health in the continent. The increase poor condition of health in Africa keeps on affecting the economy by depleting its working force with numerous diseases, making the economy go handicapped for lack of labor force. Diseases that are especially very contagious spread rapidly in poor communities. The diseases widespread in Africa include malaria, yellow fever and some others. The HIV/AIDS virus too has come to make matters worse for the African continent, with the African continent being one of the highest continents with the highest number of HIV/AIDS patients. Cancer amongst others too has contributed to the increasing poverty level on the planet as a whole, not only particular to the African continent this time.

  • Starvation in Africa

Hunger is one thing that non-Africans always use against the continent and its people. Starvation in Africa has become a trade mark by which Africans have come to be known without mincing words. In 2013, the UN food and agriculture Organization estimated that 233 million people of the Sub-Saharan region were hungry and dying every day of hunger out of the 795 million people suffering from hunger worldwide. Practically nothing has been done to reduce the level of starvation in Africa, especially in the Sub-Saharan region where more than one amongst four still remains malnourished. Starvation in Africa has nevertheless drastically cut down from over 32% in the 90’s to just about 23% in the year 2016, marking a drastic improvement in that sector. But however, a lot still needs to be done to avert the continuous impediment that hunger is causing the African economy in this modern era. The major causes of the excessive hunger and starvation on the African continent include poverty, conflict and some environmental factors like droughts and the rapid increase in global warming.  Many people are too poor to have or afford enough money to purchase food to fend for themselves and their family members and friends. All these tend to be worse when the administrators in many of the poorest African countries become stinking corrupt and dishonest in their management of public budgets.

Poverty, dejection, hunger, poorest continent, corruption stricken continent, are all the different ways by which the West views the African continent. Some people of the west still think of Africa as a place which is always into crisis and full of diseases. Most of these negative views by the western powers have largely contributed to an increase level of racism, especially to Africans who happen to be living in Europe and the Americas. The western press too has not made things very simple for the African continent, as images of Africa that are shown on their press are always those of hunger, war, corruption scandals, witchcraft and high crime wave on the continent. The better side of the African continent is seldom acclaimed on foreign press, thereby completely creating a psychological blindfold to non-Africans. Africa is not a so much poor and hunger stricken one as t is known. Below we talk of the hidden part of the African continent which is not so much proclaimed by the west.

  • Africa is on the boom

There has been enough talk of poverty in Africa and the rapid increase of hunger and other crisis. But in as much as some of that may be true while some are pure conspiracy theories, Africa is equally experiencing a brand new experience in contemporary world. The question of why is Africa so poor? Is gradually being swallowed up by many critics especially looking at the remarkable difference that the African continent has undergone throughout these post-colonial era. If such differences were experienced in the past, then very few persons would have asked themselves why is Africa still in poverty.  Africa within the past ten years has been the second fastest growing region in the world, with an annual average growth of 5.1 percent over the past decade, especially driven by an improvement in greater political stability and the implementation of incredible economic reforms by up to the task governments of the continent that have been able to unleash the private sector in the developing countries. The question of why is Africa so poor? And why is Africa in poverty? Is being kept at the background given the fact that poverty on the African continent is on a drastic decline. A new breed of consumers have taken over the African continent. Over 31 million African households have joined the world consuming class. Consumers in Africa have equally started directing most of their spending income on some other commodities than food and shelter. The most amazing fact of this boom in Africa is the fact that comes as a result of domestic spending and non-commodity sectors, rather than the resources boom as many people would envisage it to be.

  • Africa is on course to have the largest labor force in the world

With the level of poverty in Africa being on a drastic drop, an improved health condition and living conditions of Africans have seen the continent on a steady rise to top the chart with the largest labor force in the world, with economies like Nigeria and Egypt contributing immensely to this sector. The question “Why is Africa in poverty?” would definitely be cancelled with the increase productivity of this rising population that the African continent is experiencing as of present. By the year 2035, it is estimated that the labor force of Africa will be far superior to that of any continent in the world, offering the continent the chance to reap the gains offered by the demographic dividends. As the work force of Africa grows, the population of children and the old and retired will have to fall drastically, thus resulting to a decrease in the population of dependents whom the working population will have to take care of. This will give them even greater discretionary spending power.

  • Africans are becoming more educated than ever before

The answer to the question why is Africa so poor? is asked because of the deplorable state of the educational state on the continent and the low level of education by the African working population. That however has been on a rapid turn-over, as more than 40 percent of the working population on the African continent has at least some tertiary or secondary education, thereby equally stepping up the level of the skilled labor on the continent. This is a remarkable improvement, but the Africa still needs to step up their game if they have to remain economically competitive, and then only can the question of why is Africa so poor? be answered and ticked off by the many critiques that the African continent has.

  • Africa is on course to becoming the bread basket of the world

Many people have always criticized Africa of only being able to provide the raw materials and of not being up to the task of producing the finished products, except the ones that are offered by nature. Most of what is not understood is that the world would hardly be functioning the way it is if not for the role that it plays today. Africa has over 60 percent of the world’s unused cropland, giving it the opportunity to greatly develop its agricultural sector and reduce the levels of unemployment on the continent.

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