Africa can be able to make up for the economic and social gaps in comparison with the rest of the world. To determine this, we will look at various statistics and discuss alternative solutions. Once this occurs, is when we will be able to see what steps need to be taken to deal with these challenges.
Over the last several years, Africa has been the focus of many different NGO's. The reason why, is because a number of officials inside these organizations believe that positive economic development will help to address a host of challenges facing the region. A few of the most notable include: wars, abject poverty, malnutrition, corruption, terrorism and HIV / AIDS. Evidence of this can be seen by looking at the below chart, which is illustrating how Africa ranks in comparison with the lowest income countries in the world.
Table 1: The Health Indicators for Africa in Comparison with the Lowest Income Nations
Low Income Countries
Acute Respiratory Infection
Lack of Vitamin A
(Easterly, 2009, pp. 373 -- 447)
These figures are significant, because they are showing how Africa is lagging behind many of the poorest nations on earth when it comes to these issues. As a result, a number of different programs have been implemented with a 400% increase in economic aid since 1980's. However, the problem is that these kinds of initiatives have not addressed the root causes of the problem. Instead, Africa has continued to lag behind many of the other regions of the world that have been realizing above average growth (such as Asia and South America). In many Western nations, this has caused most people to question if Africa will ever bridge the vast economic and social differences with the rest of the world. Once this occurs, is when it will be clear as to if the current programs will be effective in dealing with these issues. (United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, 2005, pg. 4)
Can Africa catch up with the Rest of the World when it comes to Economic and Social Development?
Throughout modern history, Africa has always been seen as a continent with vast amounts of natural resources. During the last 500 years, is when a variety of nations around the world would try to exploit the people and mineral wealth of the region. After the end of World War II, is when the relationship would change with many colonies seeking indolence. This was part of a larger effort by Africans, to exert their own controls over the natural resources and with their internal affairs.
However, despite being on their own, most nations were unable to deal with a host of economic and social issues. Part of the reason for this, is because Africa was always considered to be the battle ground for many of the larger world powers. That is still trying to exert influence over a host of regions, in order to maintain their dominance in the world stage. During the Cold War, this meant that a number of countries would receive economic assistance for supporting one side in the conflict. This caused a number of governments to become susceptible to corruption and they were unable to address the demands of the people. Once the Cold War was over, is when there would be a focus on liberalizing trading rules. This is a part of an effort to give these nations the ability to see above average economic growth (with the reduction of trade barriers). On the surface, this was supposed to address these issues. Yet, underneath it all these changes were ineffective in dealing with these challenges. As a result, the overall amounts of economic development have remained stagnant at best.
This is troubling, because it is illustrating how the underlying problems facing Africa are only continuing to become worse. The reason why, is because the tremendous amounts of economic aid and lack of transparency with a number of programs is making them ineffective. This is because government officials have been able to slowly embezzle significant amounts of funds for their own personal use.
Evidence of this can be seen by looking at the below table which is illustrating where a few of the different African nations rank when it comes to corruption.
Table 2: The Corruption Rankings of African Countries
Democratic Republic of the Congo
("Corruption Perceptions Index," 2010)
These select countries are highlighting how the majority of African countries have worse levels of corruption in comparison with other regions of the world. Unless some kind of actions is taken to address these issues, the odds increase that this will continue to plague many countries. This is when any kind of economic reforms and assistance are ineffective.
Despite these issues, some countries have been able to realize tremendous amounts of financial gain from the sale of natural resources on world markets. A good example of this can be seen with Libya. What happened was the country was considered to be a pawn on the world stage, until it was no longer occupied by foreign powers (when Italy was defeated in World War II). Since that time, the nation has experimented with democracy and dictatorship. What made the situation so unique is that the majority of the activities of their military government (lead by Muammar Gadhafi for 42 years) were financed by the proceeds from the sale of oil. As, this accounted for: 90% of exports and 80% of the government's revenues. This allowed Gadhafi to experiment with a new form of social / economic policy that is based upon totalitarian rule, Islamic fundamentals, socialism and fascism. Over the course of time, this provided him with enough funds to be able to continuously support terrorist related activities until 2003.
This is important because, it is showing how despite having tremendous amounts of revenues many nations will often squander the profits. At the same time, many governments that emerged in the aftermath of independence were more brutal and controlling than when Africa was occupied by foreign powers. This has caused many different nations to have trouble in dealing with a host of economic and social issues (which is adding to the overall amounts of anger in certain areas). Once this occurs, it means that many nations will experience the possibility of political instability and civil unrest. ("Libya," 2011)
When you step back and analyze what is happening in Africa, it is clear that there are number of challenges that have been having an impact on economic growth. This has supported regimes that have been known for brutality and corruption. Over the course of time, this caused the overall disparities to increase in many different countries. If this current system is allowed to continue, the odds are high that any kind of efforts to address these issues will be ineffective. This is when there will be even greater amounts of social upheaval from the frustrations that many people are experiencing with the current system.
As a result, a new approach must be taken that will have greater amounts of transparency and oversight. The best way that this can be achieved is through having various benchmarks tied to any kind a funding that is provided. This will require that various nations follow strict procedures that will account for where the money is being spent.
At the same time, there needs to be an emphasis on having these countries effectively reduce the underlying amounts of corruption. The way that this will be accomplished is to establish an anti-corruption task force that will have the ability to: investigate and prosecute the highest levels inside governments. To achieve this objective,…