Can poverty be eradicated in Africa ?

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The World Bank has suggested that world poverty can be eradicated in the next 15 years. As of this year the World Bank also suggests extreme poverty will fall to less than 10% this year. Around 702 million/9.6% of the world population will live below the poverty line this year mostly in Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia.

Africa is the world second fastest growing region but the biggest issue Africa faces as a continent is poverty. We then face these questions: What causes poverty in Africa? What are the current effects of poverty in Africa?, What does it take to eradicate poverty? and How do we eradicate poverty? (keyword is “we” as poverty can only be eradicated on a united front.)

Focusing on Sub-Saharan  Africa, I will try to find the most viable solutions to African poverty. It can be suggested that Africa’s conflicts and crimes are closely linked to poverty. Further African conflicts present and past are caused by the African continents complex histories deep-rooted in colonial legacies. For example, in Zimbabwe Mugabe’s indeginisation laws and the redistribution of farms once owned by the white farmers  has since caused part of Zimbabwe’s economic and social downfall with Zimbabwe hyper-hyper inflation of 200% in 2009. Also an example is in Rwanda, the Belgian colonists labelled the Hutus and the Tutsi’s as distinct entities by introducing ID cards according to their ethnicity. With this distinction, April 1994 manifested and has become to be known one of the worst genocides in Africa.

What are the causes and effects of poverty in Africa? 

  1. Government failure –  bad leadership, corruption,rigging of elections, militancy, purges, conflicts and poor economy
  2. Political systems such as capitalism that have been used in a way that encourage the accumulation of wealth at one end “elites” – corruption, lead to rebellions, terrorism, militancy and crime.
  3. Lack of education – illiteracy, education is needed to nurture the future nurses, doctors, health specialists, labourers, engineers in all aspects of energy and water, transport experts etc
  4. Unemployment – lack of employment means lack of wages and that causes poverty as the citizens cannot feed themselves and their families

Out of these causal factors the factors I will evaluate are government failure, political systems and lack of education.

What does it take to eradicate poverty? 

It takes a unified front/government and citizens to eradicate poverty. The first form of eradicating poverty I believe is through reforming or overcoming government failure. This is the key to addressing poverty in Africa. All African countries need to have a successful government that aims to tackle the issues of corruption, education, healthcare, economy, unemployment, agriculture, welfare and social infrastructures. Industries should also be set up as Africa is a continent full of natural resources that need to be used to sustain the countries. Nigeria is the largest oil distributor in Africa and yet it is near enough impossible to find fuel in Nigeria, and exports of oil are not producing enough money that can sustain Nigeria. Further, Nigeria does not have oil industries to produce petroleum so it has to import it. Building industries may help Nigeria’s impoverished people.

It is well-known that the West provides huge sums of development aid to poor African countries, and it is well-known that NGO’s also donate money and aid to Africa’s poor countries.If aid is coming in and has been for more than a decade why is Africa far whose than what it was before ? The question is not why is there a lack of funds for governments to succeed in tackling the issues. The question we need to ask is why does the money not reach the poor?

Government Corruption and the political system of Capitalism is the answer.

Simply put, the money that is intended for sectors such as education, healthcare and social infrastructures is captured by powerful elites (usually in power posing as democratically voted Ministers) before it even reaches the poor. Elites want to be more successful and gain more power and money at the expense of the masses. African government officials only choose to gain power for their own benefit in the long run. One only needs to step in the suburbs of Harare where Ministers live, to see Rolls Royce, BMW and Mercedes-Benz parked outside a lavish mansion but subsequently less than a mile from their streets are pot holes, lack of functioning traffic lights, degraded traffic sign posts and poor people selling fruits and vegetables to earn earns meat. If we want to confirm with statistics Chad, only 1% of the non-wage public spending actually goes to the healthcare sector. 1% !!!

How do we eradicate poverty?

In terms of overcoming government failure a plausible solutions is to overcome corruption.I emphasise government failure as I believe the government’s mandate should be to protect its citizens who they are governing. Corruption in African governments creates “a situation where the particular incentives in government in government lead to a situation that is worse than what was intended” for example as given by a blogger representing world bank; government finance and provide primary school education so that the poor children can have access to learning. But  if teachers are paid regardless of whether they show up for work and politicians rely on teachers to run their political campaigns the result is absentee teachers and poor children who are illiterate. This can be also reflected in all other forms of government funding. Reforming government in African countries is a necessity.

The political system of capitalism I believe is a system that is both positive in the aspect of economic growth however, I believe the system inevitably creates a class system that allows for poverty. No one can have equal wealth in the system of capitalism. African governments need to reform and do their ultimate best to be representative of their people and to encourage education and to eradicate poverty.

Education is the key to freedom, the key to end poverty and the key to our future. If we lack education in all forms we restrict our future out comings. In terms of education in Africa, most countries charge tuition fees from primary school level to higher education level (university), unlike in the U.K and some European countries where education is free and paid for by the state government until the age of 18. A personal experience, my primary school education I attended in Zimbabwe. My parents had to pay tuition fees, at that time I believe financially the fees were at a reasonable price. After Zimbabwe’s economic downfall education was the number one target and hence why now Zimbabwe’s literacy rate has dropped, tuition fees for state-run school increased greatly nearing private run schools. Many today are unable to pay the extortion price for education for their children leaving many children not knowing how to simply read and write. This limits their job prospects and their future is essentially non-existent.

We then need to increase education in Africa for all. Education teaches us how to manufacture, produce and make use of all the natural resources Africa has to offer. I am an advocate of education for all and an advocate for full transparency and representation in government. I believe if the governments reform and the politicians and government officials seek to actually better the lives of their citizens who voted for them African countries can then prosper and poverty be eradicated.