Why Is Africa 'so Poor  Term Paper

  • Length: 13 pages
  • Subject: Literature - African
  • Type: Term Paper
  • Paper: #73371208

Excerpt from Term Paper :

Africa so Poor?

Why is it that Africa, despite the aid and help and support that she gets from different sources all over the world, is still very much impoverished and in a state of poverty even now? It is a fact that this continent has been availing of outside help and has also been a site where numerous large-scale experiments have been performed over the years in order to improve and reform its economy for its innate betterment, but it has still remained in the same condition in which it has been existing all these pats few centuries. The truth is that none of the above experiments have been able to succeed in achieving a sustained and continuous economic growth in Africa and this has also led to the astonishing fact that most African three dozen nations are, today, even poorer than they were during the 1980's. It is also a fact that only Uganda and Botswana have been able to demonstrate a growth rate that actually exceeds three percentage per annum since the year 1980, and even more shocking and sad is the fact that more than two thirds of all the African countries have been in a state of stagnation and, in some cases, shrunk in real per capita terms from the time of their Independence in the years of the 1960's. (Why is Africa so poor?)

One main reason that is often stated as being the cause of the failure of economic reform in Africa is that the 'market-based policies', that are also known as the 'Washington Consensus', that served as the basis of the experiments that were carried out on Africa were all fatally flawed, in that they all made the assumption that economic reforms would be able to create efficient markets even without attempting to reform, simultaneously, the various political institutions of the country, that needed urgent reforms, were the economic reforms that were being carried out to be successful to any extent. In addition, the fact that without a real limit on the government, and the guarantee of personal liberty and also of property rights to the individual, an 'efficient market' would not exist at all. Therefore, it can be said that if a market were to function effectively, then the organizations within the country must be able to enforce their contracts and their property rights to some extent; the absence of an enforcer would automatically mean that the result would ultimately be a virtual 'free for all' wherein everyone would be aware of the fact that everyone else would behave in an opportunistic manner, and therefore, everyone indulges in opportunistic behavior. Perfect examples of this type of behavior are Congo and Liberia.

This means that an enforcer, who has among his duties the enforcement of property rights and other contracts, must be also able to force people involved to adhere to the decisions that have been made by him. The enforcer is generally the government, and when the government does not function at its optimum best, and then there would definitely be trouble for the people of the country. Therefore, even though the connection between the government and the market may not be one of the best, but the basic concept is that any government that is strong enough to expropriate and ensure the wealth and the prosperity of its citizens, then they would not only need a lot of revenue and resources for their political development, but must also serve in politically crucial and important constituencies. Most of the time, governments have the tendency to exchange political support with monopoly rights, or for basic protection form competition, or for gaining special privileges of any kind. This means that when a plan for economic reform must be met with a certain modicum of success, it must make sure of channeling governments into the support of markets, and make sure that their innate nature of wariness and predatoriness is gotten rid of. (Why is Africa so poor?)

The 'Economic Report on Africa, 2003', states that the economic performance of Africa fell short of all expectations in the year 2002, when growth slowed from a rate of 4.3% in the year 2001 to the rate of 3.2% in the year 2002, and of all the countries in Africa, numbering 55, only 5 countries were able to achieve the 7% growth rate that was required to be met according to the Millennium Development Goals that had been outlined earlier. This sort of weak performance only goes to demonstrate an innately weak global economy as well as a very slow rebound in the world trade. Other factors that contributed to the weak economy were the facts of disease like AIDS, malaria, and the presence of drought in a large number of countries. In addition, there were political and armed conflicts in many parts of Africa, and this led to further weakening. However, what must be remembered is the fact that certain well-managed economies with solid and firm agendas were able to perform very well; like for example, Mozambique showed a growth rate of 12%, which is a fast and rapid growth. (Economic Report on Africa, 2003)

The most recent analyses of economic growth in Africa demonstrate the fact that the economic progress of Africa has not been given due significance and it shows that the production technology has been lagging in this aspect. Malaria, a terrible disease caused by mosquitoes, is one of the deadliest diseases found in the African continent, and this disease imposes one of the highest economic costs, directly as well as indirectly, on several already struggling and poorer countries of the world, including Africa. Some of the earliest recorded cases of malaria state that malaria was found to have occurred in the late nineteenth century and the early twentieth centuries. Malaria has been proved to be a severe inhibitor of the economic growth of the country, because of the high costs that the governments had to incur to diagnose and to treat the deadly disease. (The Economic Costs of Malaria in South Africa)

Therefore, it can be stated that the control of malaria and its very containment would significantly tax the country in which it has occurred, and the WHO or the World Health Organization has claimed, along with Harvard University and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, that when malaria is controlled within the country, then it would not only increase the productivity of the country but would also increase, to significant levels, the income of several African families. All the evidence points to the fact that malaria serves to block the economic growth of the country, and from the year 1990 onwards, GDP per person in many sub-Saharan African countries has been on a steady decline, and malaria would explain this type of dismal performance. (Economic costs of malaria are many times higher than previously estimated)

Africa is known as the world's poorest continent, and though it has been widely accepted that it has been lagging behind in all spheres for the pats many generations due to a large variety of reasons, deadly diseases like malaria and AIDS among them, it is now said that there is indeed hope for Africa. This is because of the fact that many countries in Africa are showing a tendency of better economic growth and progress today, than the older days. This betterment reflects to a large extent the fact that there is now a better implementation of social and structural as well as economic reforms, and these reforms are bringing about this change. Domestic and external financial imbalances have all been cut down or eliminated in these countries, and this has contributed in no small measure to the economic efficiency of the countries that have started to change. Health care is now being given the priority it deserves, and this has also come to mean that the public spending on health care issues has been increased to a large extent. Education, and other such social services have now taken a front seat of priority, and there has aloes been noticed a growing tendency towards open and cooperative and participatory types of government that generally encourage cooperation between the state and the civil societies. (Promoting Growth in Sub-Saharan Africa)

Be what it may, the situation in the sub-Saharan regions remains, however, completely unchanged, and this means that it remains in a very fragile and susceptible state wherein domestic and external shocks of varying intensities end up affecting the area very badly, and it has a long way to go before it can even hope to recover a part of the ground that it has lost over the numerous years of unrest and turbulence and shocks. Economic growth may be on the increase in some of these parts, but the fact that poverty remains a huge drawback cannot be ignored, and it is this poverty and poor economic condition that have contributed to the fact that investments in these areas has…

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