Africa has the richest natural resources and yet we are poor and stagnant in development. Poverty is defined by the dictionary as “The state or condition of having little or no money, goods, or means of support”. This is an extremely vague definition and covers Poverty as a whole, although this speech will elaborate on the details of the causes of poverty in Africa.
What causes poverty? There are many reasons why this would occur, the most prevalent of these being corruption, and lack of resources in the region. Corruption occurs in Africa when the governments do not use money responsibly and instead use it for themselves. Corruption destroys trust between the government and its people in ensuring that money is used responsibly.
Despite all the wealthy resources in its possession, Africa is the world’s poorest continent.
Poverty in Africa is caused by a number of factors. The leading causes are corruption and poor governance, limited employment opportunities, poor infrastructure, poor resource usage, wars and unending conflicts, poor World Bank and IMF policies, among others.
CORRUPTION AND POOR GOVERNANCE (coupled with dictatorial regimes). Poverty can only be fought in the presence of strong institutions, and equitable distribution of resources. This requires a non-corrupt government. However, in Africa, programs designed to fight poverty are not fully implemented because the funds end up in the hands of corrupt individuals, who pocket the majority. And because of poor governance, those in authority have failed to apprehend the corrupt. This creates an imbalance in society and leads to more poverty because you end up with a few influential and powerful individuals oppressing the poor (who are the majority).
POOR LAND UTILIZATION. In most African countries, people own large chunks of land that are underutilized or sometimes not even used at all. This is partly because they are either not educated on what to do with the land, or because some people are just stuck in their rudimentary ways of doing things. Some people just use the land to grow crops which are just enough for subsistence survival. Nothing goes to the market for sale.
CIVILS WARS AND UNENDING POLITICAL CONFLICTS. Africa is popular for its civil wars, either between neighboring countries or within the same country. Such incidences render war zones unproductive, in addition to scaring away investment that would otherwise help foster economic development and create employment, which would help people get out poverty.
POOR INFRASTRUCTURE. Africa has a very poor infrastructure set up. They have poor roads, railways, water systems, etc, yet these are some of the major drivers of economic development. As a result, only a few areas with better facilities (such as urban areas) have developed over the other (rural) areas, which are occupied by the largest percentage of the population.
DISEASES AND POOR HEALTH FACILITIES. Another leading cause of poverty in Africa is the prevalence of diseases (such as malaria, HIV/AIDS, TB etc). When a household is affected by any of the diseases, the little resources are spent on treating the sick. In a worst case scenario where the bread winner dies, those who are left behind have no resources to support themselves, thus leading a poor lifestyle. And the situation is worsened by poor health facilities.
THE WORLD BANK AND IMF POLICIES. The loans given out by the World Bank and IMF (the International Monetary Fund) have contributed to the poverty problem in Africa. Such loans come with strict conditions, which usually required governments to adjust some of their economic decisions. For instance, the requirement to reduce total government spending has affected major social sectors such as education, health and infrastructure, which are drivers of economic development.