The problem is not that we were once in charge, but that we are not in charge any more. Because this system of oppression, based on greed and white supremacy, was not a lived experience for the inhabitants of this fair isle — as segregation in the US was, for example — and because it is still not taught in our schools, we delude ourselves into believing that empire was a noble cause, and we are charmed by the promises politicians make to take us back to the good old days. What period exactly are we trying to get back to? Even their gods were replaced.
By a kind of perverted logic, it turns to the past of the oppressed people, and distorts, disfigures, and destroys it. So a people seemingly with no past were now free to determine their own future. Postcolonial Africa was caught in the middle of the cold war battle for ideological dominance , then crippled by structural adjustment policies of the World Bank and IMF and is now at the mercy of multinational corporations whose bank balances many times the size of many African economies give them power to act in ways that are, if not always above the law, certainly outside of the moral maze.
In May, a report into resource flows in and out of Africa revealed that the continent loses more money each year than it receives in aid, investment and remittances. According to Honest Accounts more than three times the amount Africa receives in aid was taken out mainly by multinational companies deliberately misreporting the value of their imports or exports to reduce tax.
In the half-century since independence, while economies have grown and, in the broadest sense, governance has improved , democracy on the continent is still faltering. The lack of transparency, accountability, safety and the rule of law; the often bloated public sectors and squeezed small businesses; patriarchy masquerading as religion and culture; high unemployment rates and, recently, jihadism destabilising the Sahel region — all these factors are keeping Africans poor.
But of course, that statement is a sweeping generalisation — the kind you have to make when writing about 54 countries in 1, words. That every day millions of internet users are seeking to understand a continent rather than a specific country or a region is itself telling. The second assumption is that there is something exceptional about Africa, that while other continents and peoples have got or are getting richer, Africans, for reasons we can think but no longer speak in polite company, choose to remain in poverty.
It also means we rarely rage as we should against the actions of the corporations and governments that profit from instability, corruption or even inexperience African negotiators at the climate talks have historically been disadvantaged by their lack of experience and the expectation among western negotiators that they should be grateful with whatever they get.
Tackling Corruption- Strong Institutions and Good Governance Corruption has been identified among the common causes of poverty in Africa. There is a high amount of corruption in both the private and public sectors of the African society. Most of the times, the institutions that are supposed to check, report and punish corruption are themselves corrupted or rendered ineffective.
The high levels of corruption in the public sector drain much of the resources of the state to a few public officers and politicians rendering many poor people poorer. Corruption also persists when state officials misappropriate state resources and use them for purposes which do not benefit the people. According to Transparency International, of the ten countries considered most corrupt in the world, six are in sub-Saharan Africa. Many of the problems that face Africa are linked to corruption. For instance many military interventions are carried out because the perpetrators may believe that their access to state resources would provide them with all the riches they desire on earth.
Essay: The Challenge of Leadership and the Poverty of Ambition
Most politicians seek re-election and entrench themselves in power because holding office gives them access to the state's coffers, as well as immunity from prosecution for their corrupt practices. To effectively deal with corruption, African countries need to strengthen their institutions especially those responsible for dealing with corruption and reduce the level of control the state have over them.
In , the UN Economic Commission for Africa reported that institutions needed to check and report corruption in most African countries have been largely inefficient and ineffective due to their uncertain political footing. In the report UNECA further claimed that these institutions were often funded and overseen by the executive branch and thus anti-corruption agencies could be eliminated at the will of politicians.
For instance in South Africa, the Scorpions investigating unit a very effective anti- corruption agency was disbanded in Whereas Africans must play a leading role in finding ways to tackle corruption, development partners in the developed countries also have a role to play. The developed countries can help fight corruption in Africa through the conditions they attach to the aid and loans they advance to African countries.
As part of the conditions, they must demand a succinct report and account from African governments on the projects for which they provided funds for. They must also demand of them to put in practice the rule of law and strengthen agencies and institutions that monitor government actions. There must be a renewed effort by African leaders to give more independence and resources to anti-corruption agencies and create a friendly environment for NGOs and non-governmental agencies to scrutinize their dealings and operations.
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There can be an appreciable amount of transparency in the governance of African countries if the principles of good governance and rule of law are adhered to by African leaders. Unlike in the s and s where military interventions featured prominently in African politics, the 21st century has brought about democracy in most African states. Many African countries including Ghana, Kenya etc. In order to ensure a wane in the high levels of poverty and inequality in Africa, the commitment of African leaders to openness in administration must be continued and further enhanced.
Building Infrastructure, Sound Economic Policies and Regional Integration African countries have a large deficit in their infrastructure. The unavailability of some basic infrastructure inextricably makes people impoverished and slows down the economic development path. According to the World Bank, the main area in infrastructure where Africa is challenged includes health, transport, telecommunication and power.
In modern times, Africa is still struggling with diseases like malaria, fever and cholera largely due to poor health conditions and facilities.
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These illness and disease cause many people in Africa to become unproductive and this subsequently leads to the loss of money for the state and the impoverishment of the affected people. Inadequate transport infrastructure such as roads, railways, bridges, and factories causes a lot of agricultural produce in African countries go waste leading to loss of income for farmers. In Ghana for instance, the roads to many farming communities is very poor and inaccessible.
This situation discourages many investors from investing in African countries. Investments which could have lifted many people out of poverty in Africa are thus lost. Even though Africa has seen some improvement in infrastructure in recent years, this does not lift the continent out of its infrastructure deficit and a lot more commitment is needed from African leaders to put out adequate infrastructure in their countries. Political leaders in Africa must see the provision of infrastructure as a primary effort to reduce poverty in their countries. Provision of infrastructure must gain prominence in the economic policies of African countries and backed with action.
The type of economic policies put out in some countries only end up decorating the macroeconomic indicators of those countries rather than transforming the lives of the people. African countries must roll out policies that benefit the people directly.
They should employ the use of many social interventions in areas which can generate income for the people. For instance, because many Ghanaians are engaged in agriculture as the main source of employment, the government should therefore subsidize agriculture inputs to make sure that the people can get access to them easily.
Having access to those inputs create income for the people and reduce poverty. There must also be clear action by African countries to add value to their raw material produce. As highlighted earlier, many African countries export their agricultural or natural resource produce to developed countries with no added values. This makes them attract very little prices on the global market.
There should therefore be policies that will transform the economies of African countries into industrialized ones where exports of only raw materials will be a thing of the past.
Africa 1980–2010: Tragedies, Triumphs, and Challenges
African countries must add value to their agricultural produce by processing them into finished goods before putting them for sale on the global market. There can never be a fair level of competitiveness for African countries and developed ones so far as Africa assumes the role of exporters of raw materials on the international level. To lift its people out of poverty, African countries must work hard enough to modernize their internal economies mainly through industrialization. Many people who would freely move into agriculture in Africa lack the needed support.
Governments must make available credit facilities to support its people who are willing and able to engage in productive activities. One major problem that African countries face is their inability to determine the prices of their own exports freely. In most instances the conditions on the international market and the demand needs of the developed countries push African countries to settle on prices which are far below their expectations. They are left with no option to decide on the prices of their exports to other continents and countries.
Thus, immediately African countries earned their independence, they had to continue with the trade routes established by their colonial masters during the colonial period. They continued with the exportation of raw materials such as agricultural produce, gold, timber, diamonds etc. One major way through which African countries can develop economically is for them to strengthen the economic and trade relations among themselves. Regional integration can allow African countries to collaborate on a wide range of issues that are more or less connected to alleviating poverty in the region.
Even though the entire Africa market may not be large as that of the European Union or Asia, it can be another good platform for trade. As mentioned earlier, there should be enough commitment by African leaders to develop physical infrastructure which ultimately will promote regional trade and integration. Again, closer trading links between these countries would strengthen their capacity to participate in world trade. Regional integration would enable many countries to overcome the obstacles represented by their relatively small domestic markets, by enabling producers to realize greater economies of scale and benefit from the establishment of regional infrastructures.
A regional approach in key structural areas such as tariff reduction and harmonization, legal and regulatory reform, payment systems rationalization, financial sector reorganization, investment incentive and tax system harmonization, and labour market reform enables participating countries to pool their resources and avail themselves of regional institutional and human resources, in order to attain a level of technical and administrative competence that would not be possible on an individual basis Undoubtedly, regional integration will strengthen the bargaining position of African countries and make them more confident in the arena of international trade.
To effectively do this, African countries must show enough political will and commitment to building regional institutions and policies that will be well implemented in their respective countries.
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The Economic Commission for Africa ECA established within the UN became the champion of regional integration, already in the mids proposing the division of Africa into regions for the purposes of economic development. For instance, Ghana has a huge potential of diversifying its economy through the production of salt which is a common resource in the country.
However, it has become very difficult for the country to have adequate investment for its salt production whereas other West African countries still continue to import salt from Brazil and Australia at higher costs. It would be economically prudent for West Africa states to collectively work to ensure that the salt industry in Ghana is exploited to the benefit of all of them.
African countries must provide adequate support and cooperation to the various sub-regional economic blocs on the continent whiles taking bold steps to implement the policies and plans derived from them. Effective Management of Intractable Conflicts The emergence of wars and conflict as identified earlier is another major way through which many people are driven in poverty.
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Conflicts have so many interrelated issues like outbreak of diseases, loss of capital, loss of property among others which make the living conditions of the people domiciled in the affected area very difficult. Africa has been judged to be "the most warring region on the planet" Conflicts in Africa are mostly ethnic in nature and more often internal than external.
For example, in countries like Nigeria, Burundi, Rwanda, Cote d'Ivoire, Ghana, Mauritania, Kenya, Tanzania, Zaire, and Zimbabwe, colonial powers utilized the segmentation of ethnic groups to their advantage. The divide-and-rule policies of colonial administrators assured the docility of different ethnic groups and thus shielded them from the menace of insurrection. In other words, it was feasible to divide ethnic groups and pit them against each other so that they could focus their energies on fighting one another rather than overthrowing colonial governments. This was also the strategy utilized by the apartheid regime in South Africa These ethnic induced sentiments are deeply rooted in the lives of many Africans and will prolong for a long period of time.
To effectively handle and prevent such conflicts, Africa countries must embark on massive nationalistic campaigns and educate their citizenry on the need to thrive as one people of a country first before seeing themselves as members of their ethnic groups. The curricular in schools especially at the initial years of formal education must focus on shaping the minds of students to be utmost patriotic to their countries.
Government can employ of the services of professionals in the resolution of conflicts through various means of mediation and national reconciliation. Conclusion Poverty is not only limited to Africa. It is a situation which cannot be eradicated with some simple solutions. There must be a dedicated long term plan and strong commitment to alleviate poverty in the African region.
References 1. Azami, R.