Poverty in Africa: Causes, Effects And Solutions: The term “Poverty” is used to describe unproductivity or insufficiency of resources. It is the state of being unable to provide for one’s immediate basic needs and meet up with the standard of living. For a geographical entity populated by people, Poverty is used to describe the condition of the people more than the adequacy or otherwise of its resources.
Definitely, the question of the availability of resources to improve development and the condition of living should be answered as well. This is why Africa has been a consistent case study by many local and international researchers. The overwhelming issue of poverty in Africa has been attributed to many factors of which some have viewed the situation no more than a curse.
Despite having the largest pool of resources pari passu a growing human capital, this continent has generally failed in managing its resources leading to a consquential stagnation in growth and development. This article attempts to address the causes and effects of poverty as well as the solutions to poverty in Africa.
Table of Content
Causes of Poverty in Africa
It should be noted that within Africa itself, there is a disparity in the level of poverty amongst countries. This can easily be attributed to the lack of available resources needed to improve the development of a country; but that is just a one sided opinion. As we will learn shortly, the rise of poverty in Africa extends beyond lack of resources because a continent like Africa has been globally recognized as the source of wealth to nations. Therefore, what are the real causes of poverty in Africa?
1. Bad Governance/Corruption: In respect of this point, it is generally presumed that the African continent is blessed with an ocean of resources but unfortunately bedeviled by unscrupulous leaders and bad governance. This amongst other factors, is the biggest threat to the economic development of a society, talk less a nation.
Africa has been the land source of natural resources like gold, cotton, diamond, sugar, salt, petroleum, iron, copper and so on but it is worrisome that there has been a consistent mismanagement of these resources. It has become quite easy for the government occupied by persons who made an oath to provide for the masses, to use their office to benefit themselves through these resources.
In a long run, the economic decisions and policies will have many faults which will lead to recession and eventually the poverty rate will be on the high side.
2. Lack of policy making opportunities to the disadvantaged masses: Africa in general has embraced a conventional pattern; only those who matter should matter. This orientation has caused economic decision makers to ignore the growing number of the poor and strategize to suppress the poverty rate. Usually, any stringent economic or financial decision being made affects those who are incapable of meeting up with the demands.
In line with this premise, there are very few opportunities afforded to those of the disadvantaged society. Thus, it appears that the masses are not only mildly considered when making policies, they are also not given the floor to reach a compromise with the government or at least express their grievances to the latter.
This is also the case when it comes to sharing or allocating revenue, the rural communities are easily marginalized and underdeveloped with more focus on the cities. So these areas are devoid of good roads, electricity, good medical facilities and other amenities.
3. There is hardly effective institutions established for eradication of poverty: Perhaps it is a long reach to expect poverty to be completely eradicated. That is why the government has settled for the possibility of the rate of poverty to be reduced by establishing schemes, programmes and institutions for this purpose.
The concern is that despite the efforts of these schemes, there has been a flood of issues emanating from the project. Take for instance the National Poverty Eradication Programme (NAPEP) established by the Nigerian Government in 2001. It has been reported in its accuracy that there are still challenges NAPEP is still yet to deal with. At least it is the only effective scheme known to date.
There is no other institutional creation in Nigeria that has the effective reach as NAPEP. This equally applies to other nations. The government has a plan to reduce poverty but the execution has not been efficiently acknowledged because of the lack of effective institutions in doing same.
4. Inadequate education particularly of the female children: Research has shown that one of the strongest reasons why Africa has stagnant development and a large number of impoverished masses is due to inadequate education of said masses.
This is accurate because even though Western education has improved the continent’s economy, there is reluctancy on the part of some people to hold on to the traditional methods of training the younger generation. These persons have an incredible disdain for Western education.
In some ways, this has been influenced by religious philosophies. The girl child suffers the brunt of this known fact. Some well known African communities have not availed the females to participate in career building platforms, in schools or elsewhere. This is unfortunate because the women are considered to be facilitators of the economy in any society.
5. Natural Disasters: As already explained, the African continent is rich with natural resources which has provoked the attention of countries overseas with investments and trade relations. One of the reasons for this is the convenient climatic condition of most African countries which helps not only to grow some of these resources but also develop them.
While there are no grave natural disasters that are known to the African soil, there are other natural factors that can slow the growth process of these resources which can lead to a dirth of their existence. Some agricultural produce can be affected by soil erosion, flooding, and in some areas drought, environmental degradation, land and air pollution e.t.c
Often times, situations like these become uncontrollable and result in economic crisis which has happened severally in the past especially in those nations that heavily rely on them.
6. Poor Health Services: It goes without saying that a healthy nation is a wealthy nation. It is impossible to work and earn a living when one’s health is in jeopardy. Sadly, most African communities have not paid needful attention to this area. Some areas in various nations are surprisingly scarce of good medical facilities.
Even when these facilities are available, the disadvantaged masses are not given the proper attention since they do not have the means to pay for health services. This automatically results to a decline in productivity and the community will suffer the drawback of lack of productivity regardless of the technology involved.
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7. Civil Wars: There is no country that faces internal armed conflicts and remains the same afterwards. The immediate effect of civil war is high rate of poverty. In fact, it had been historically noted that during any civil conflict, the masses suffer the most. This is because civil Wars lead to destruction of lives and properties which creates unsafe environment for anyone to go to his or her place of business.
In turn, the country not only becomes a political mess but an economic disaster. Examples include the Rwanda Genocide in 1994 and the Nigerian Civil War in 1967 to 1970. A more recent instance is the well known civil crisis in countries like South Sudan and Libya. Federal and State Governments will suspend school activities, business activities, trading activities within and outside the country.
Big time foreign investors will withdraw from inevitable loss. When considered holistically, it is undeniable that African nations have had their shares of civil wars which is one of the reasons why the general economy has a failing record.
The YouTube video below discusses more about the causes of the high rate of poverty in Africa. I highly recommend that you watch it painstakingly.
Effects of Poverty in Africa
The causes of poverty in Africa are not exhaustive and neither are the ramifications. Each year, there is increase of mass poverty and as the number grows, the people are forced to make a living for themselves. What are the effects?
1. High rate of mortality: There is increase of death rates due to horrendous standard of living, inadequate health services leading to life threatening diseases and extreme hunger. The genocide that occurred in Rwanda claiming 800,000 lives is an example of what transpired after the incident.
2. Economic depletion: African countries have been confronted with unending series of economic recession which in a long run has affected the overall economy of nations. Due to the increased population of the poor masses, there is little or no inspiration for the said group to invest into the economic development of the nation. For a continent that has more number of poor than the rich, the problem just keeps on growing.
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3. As a continent, it is very difficult to keep investing in its resources: As repeatedly emphasised, Africa is one of the richest continents in terms of the natural resources it possesses and that is why persons and governments overseas are interested in Africa.
Unfortunately it has not been able to manage its resources properly and given the inevitable results of poverty, the continent as a whole does not strike much attention as it used to. Now, in the scope of global trade, the stock value for these resources has drastically dropped over the years.
4. Lack of respect in the international scene: It is obvious that a notable poor country cannot have much influence in making some decisions or have a strong presence in matters of international importance. Compared with other economically advanced countries of the world, most African countries will not realistically stand a chance running in opposition. Usually, they bend to their will at every turn or they are not given the respect as a nation.
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5. High rate of crime activities: This is no surprise given that most of those who engage in criminal activities such as murder, armed robbery, theft, kidnapping, internet fraud and so on, are largely part of the disadvantaged masses. In periods of economic recession, there is the possibility of more people interested in taking advantage of highly placed people in the society. So in order to provide for themselves, they are willing to go off the deep end and use illegal tactics to amass wealth.
6. Ultimate National Breakdown: Where a country does not have enough resources or capital to secure the welfare of the masses, it may be forced to merge with a nation that is doing prosperously well. While this has not been the case yet, it is a growing concern. If the numbers keep growing, a country will have no other choice than to amalgamate with another country just to sustain the economy.
If for the sake of integrity it refuses to do so, such country will continue to borrow and owe huge debts which can result to refusal from lending nations to provide assistance.
Recommendations and Solutions to Poverty in Africa
Is there a solution to poverty in Africa? What are the issues that need to be urgently addressed to keep the economic structure of a country from being completely destroyed? And how can the disadvantaged masses have a reasonable standard of living?
1. African governments should create employments for the masses. This had been overemphasized for years and it still remains one of the surest ways to reduce poverty. The governments should strategize how to develop the various sectors that generate revenue and make these sectors enriching for people to be gainfully employed. The government should diversify the opportunities and not marginalize a portion of the citizens.
2. Health Services and Facilities should be made adequate to both urban and rural areas equally: As already discussed, the lack of good medical facilities in the rural communities where a good number of the less privileged citizens are only prolongs the issue of poverty.
Good medical services should be afforded and affordable to everyone, whether rich or poor.
3. Government should take legislative actions to prohibit restriction of child education: Education is paramount for a person to function in a civilised nation. It is very important that the education of young ones is considered necessary in the making of any national policy. It is also recommended that the government focuses on the girl child education proscribing religious or traditional perspectives restraining them from being educated.
Furthermore, government should strive to ensure equal pay for both male and female workers in the same capacity of labour. This will facilitate the interest of the women in the economic development of the country.
4. Strict measures should be executed against corrupt public/government officials: Mismanagement of resources will lead to an impoverished country. This can be avoided if the right actions can be meted against those who are responsible for using the or position to commit national theft.
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5. More effective schemes and institutions should be created principally to reduce the rate of poverty in various countries. Each country should have potent orientation programmes, training schemes and institutions to educate the masses on various vocational skills. Slowly but surely, the schemes will prove benefitial placing everyone on an equal scale of learning and development.
6. African Governments should uniformly share the revenues of the nation to the masses at all and sundry. Africa has the problem of closing the gap between the rich class and the poor class because of marginalising the class that cannot “provide enough” to the capital of the country. What most governments fail to realize is that the resources they have can be used yo develop the underachieving areas.
Those areas can be so developed that the country can rely heavily on the rural communities to generate revenue.
Poverty can be completely eradicated in Africa. It should always be considered a possibility. The process in achieving this feat is a long and should be a consistent one. The governments have tried to succeed in this respect but it has always been a situation of one step forward and two steps behind.
However, the leaders deserve only half of the blame. There are other issues which the masses themselves need to address as well. Issues such as lack of interest in government created schemes, orientation programmes, training platforms not to mention involvement in criminal activities; all these eventually discourages the government to perform their function in alleviating poverty.
Africa has a wealth of resources needed to be managed properly and focus should be centered on political, social and economic development in all areas especially where the poor class is in large number. When the right attention is given to this problematic situation, the gap between the rich and poor will be closed and Africa will be celebrated as one of the wealthiest continents on the planet.
Edeh Samuel Chukwuemeka ChMC, is a Law Student and a Certified Mediator/Conciliator in Nigeria. He is also a Developer with knowledge in HTML, CSS, JS, PHP and React Native. Samuel is bent on changing the legal profession by building Web and Mobile Apps that will make legal research a lot easier.