Many middle- and lower-class Africans (which constitute around 90% of the African population) would tend to agree that Africa is not generating economic growth whatsoever.
All around the world, when Africa is mentioned, a series of images flash through people’s minds. These images usually reflect a poor continent plenty of sick black people who play with their pet elephants in a backyard, a place which used to be a rich ripe garden for strong human labor. However, this is no longer the current state of this continent. This continent houses about 1.3 billion people and 0.011% are millionaires while 15% are unemployed.
Africa’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is 2.19 trillion dollars less than one-third that of the United States of America. Its GDP per capita is 1,720 dollars and the GDP growth rate is 3.7 percent. The GDP per capita is, however, moderate income which most of the African countries do not benefit from. There’s an African country where some people earn 500 dollars a year or less, which is hovering along the poverty line.
In my opinion, many middle- and lower-class Africans (which constitute around 90% of the African population) would tend to agree that Africa is not generating economic growth whatsoever. We do not experience the ‘economic growth’ our politicians seem to believe in incessantly. The prices of goods are increasing, the value of our currencies keeps depreciating, and the ever-rising interest rates make us want to keep our money inside our walls instead of the banks.
WHY DOESN’T AFRICA EXPERIENCE ECONOMIC GROWTH?
When one is faced with a problem, it is prudent to investigate what causes the problem. The countries of Africa gained their independence from colonial rule about 50 years ago. If, in the last 50 years, we still have not been able to pull ourselves together to create a stable economy, then, there must be a reason. Not just any reason, though. This was started by many little problems that turned into big problems, or sometimes vice versa. Outlined below are my thoughts as to why Africa is not developing the way it should.
1. Colonization of Africa
The economic impact of colonization has been debated for a long time. According to my research, colonization did more harm than good to Africa. When the invaders came ashore Africa, it is safe to say that their intentions were not to develop our economy. They came, invariably, to take our resources which were comprised of gold, bauxite, diamond, cocoa, wood and eventually human resources.
These resources were sold in barter for much less valuable commodities such as mirrors, cotton, gun powder, gin and others due to the ignorance of our ancestors. These resources were then sold at very little to almost no cost when they colonized us. These resources that would have been used for development because of the great value they would have brought to the countries were instead wasted due to colonization.
In addition, the colonization and slavery process broke the spirit of African pride and independence. The ordeals that the Europeans forced the Africans to go through in order to make the majority of them submit was so effective, and in some cases, still works to this day. Majority of Africans see the white man to be a God of sorts. We incessantly go to them for help, in terms of aid and grants instead of trying harder to work everything out for ourselves.
The patronage of European goods in the African market shows this unfortunate situation as Africans see African goods as inferior. This causes more imports to be made than exports, thus crippling the economy. The inferiority complex does a lot to encourage innovation, creative skills, and make Africa a caricature copycat of the Europeans. The schools of thought which claim that Africans were poor before colonization are in err about this one. This is because Aksum, Ghana, Songhay, Mali and Great Zimbabwe were probably as developed as any of their contemporaries were due to their trading relations and the amount of wealth they had. (I apologize to anyone offended, but I believe it is best to call a spade a spade).
2. African Religion
Religion has done more harm than good to those who are very religious within Africa. As the most religious community in the entire world, it is a grave understatement to say that religion affects our everyday life, especially our economy. Religion in and of itself is a way of gaining freedom from the troubles of this world but in the hands of oppressors it could be used as a tool to control subordinates.
Religion in the wrong hands encourages backward mentalities that are not effective for the governance of a nation such as sexism, homophobia, fear of spirits, demons and many others. All these mentalities are a result of arrogance. Politicians who want to get into power have ways with their crowds, especially the uneducated crowds that make up more than half of the countries and continent’s population.
The ignorance on the side of the people make them easy to manipulate and since these politicians do not come to power to help the continent, they end up compromising the nature of the economy. An example of such an erroneous stand made by the ignorant African is that there is a higher probability of a politician to be made president if he is religious and gives money to them when they need instead of the other person who actually has plans to better the nation.
3. Corruption in Africa
Corruption is the word on every Africans lips when regarding the major issues in Africa, and they are not half wrong. The leaders who are put into power (or put themselves into power) do not manage the nations resources appropriately. They think only for themselves and their families instead of the countries they have been tasked to govern. They steal and pilfer a lot of the countries resources into their own pockets at the expense of their barely surviving country. Others only allow for development where they see fit and ignore all together the other industries.
4. A Need for Education in Africa
The way forward is simple: battling ignorance. Ignorance on the part of Africans has been a canker that has caused a lot of problems for the African people. The arrow to the Achille’s heel of ignorance is education. If the African people are educated and re-educated, they will be able to break free from the problems derived from colonization, religion and corruption.
Education will enable Africans to not be controlled by their ignorance and allow them to choose leaders who have good policies for their nations. It will also enable them to punish any corrupt leaders they may encounter and instill the spirit of accountability to anyone in power. Easier said than done, no?