Post-colonial Africa has proven to be quite the conundrum, belonging fiercely to itself in theory, yet extremely dysfunctional in practicality. Greg Mills, in his acclaimed book “Why Africa Is Poor”, takes us on an intellectual journey explaining the why, as well as providing solutions to alleviating poverty.
Are Africa’s natural resources a curse?
When former President Mwai Kibaki announced that Kenya discovered oil under its belly in 2012, some people wondered if this was a blessing or a curse. When the government initially could not agree with the local community of Turkana over expected oil revenue split, voices of doubt grew louder.
Africa’s natural resources have become burdensome to her people as they have failed to alleviate poverty within the continent; contrary to the expectation. A case in point is Nigeria and their oil, a resource which could turn the country’s economy around for the better but, failing to do so dismally. It is disheartening that only 1% of the Nigerian population benefits from this resource, thus rendering it useless to Nigerian and Africa as a whole.
The nullification of African resources as far as economic transformation is concerned has led to the displacement of a lot of Africans. In fact, by 2025, it is said that 1 in 4 people around the world will be from sub-Saharan Africa. The economic conditions in sub-Saharan Africa are not conducive for poor youth to stay in their countries, and they are propelled to leave and look for work elsewhere.
60% of the world’s arable land is found in Africa, but the continent imports its food
The agricultural sector in Africa is squandered and neglected. A decline in food export has been noted. Africa is now an importer of food, falling greatly behind East Asia, which has managed to triple its agricultural export market, and Latin America, which has doubled its export numbers. The African agriculture share is now at 4%, which is half of what it was in 1970.
The reason behind the decline is that no care and effort was taken to ensure that the African food export thrives, this especially, as a solution to the dwindling economic patterns.
Africa’s is experiencing the second largest economic growth after Asia
After years of economic stagnation, Africa saw economic growth in the 2000s. The growth spurt inspired hopes of positive change, but Africa still lagged in its development. Post-Cold War, the decisions which were taken by African leaders led to a lot of chaos and despair. The Aids denialism era of Thabo Mbeki in South Africa, the famine in Niger and the war in Darfur were ripple effects of these decisions. African leaders were trying to assert themselves post-colonialism, not always to the benefit of the people.
In 2008 when the Rwanda development board was formed, Greg Mills decide on a strategy to ensure that Rwanda benefits from its rich heritage. This would help the economy through tourism. The first logical step was to make sure that Rwanda had a functional airline so that anyone with intentions could go into the country speedily, safely and at a price that wouldn’t break the bank.
During this time, the African economy was increasing by 5% every year for 5 years, this was great and enough to make sure that African countries were not down and out. However, for the maintenance of sound economic conditions, this economic growth would have to be consistent, but, with the increasing population, things were not easy. It would take 7% of economic growth per annum to make sure that poverty was also dealt with beyond survival mode.
Despite the economic growth, Africa’s population continues to exhibit poor health signs
In 2009, Africa was recorded as the poorest continent in the world with the highest infant mortality rate and the lowest life expectancy of 50 years, followed by East Asia with a life expectancy of 68.
These were the effects of poverty and lack of leadership. The development rate of Africa was at 17% in the 90s, but that was not enough to clear the developmental backlog or to achieve at least low-income countries.
Many argue that Aid for Africa has added to woes
Even with all the aid offered to help with the economic crisis, Africa still could not sustain itself. It is the very aid of well-meaning world powers that has stunted the growth of the continent because nothing could ever make up for its incapacity. Uganda, for example, had a lot of good ideas and policies, but none of them could translate well into development due to incapacity and what President Yoweri Museveni deems as “a lack of discipline” on the part of Africans.
Africa is poor due to a lack of leadership, excessive funding and the attitude of Africans. All of these factors affect the process of innovation, capacitation and self-governance which are all important for the realization of Africa that is without economic crisis.