• The African continent makes up 6% of the Earth’s surface and 20% of the land mass.The 54 countries in Africa together have a population of about one billion or about 14% of the population of the world. Close to 1000 different languages are spoken on the continent.
  • Africa’s contribution to world trade is 1% and 25 of the world’s bottom poor countries are in Africa.
  • 300 to 500 million Africans are infected with malaria each year causing 1.5 to 2.7 million deaths.This means that in Africa a child dies every 45 seconds of malaria.
  • Sub-Saharan Africa is more heavily affected by HIV and AIDS than any other region of the world. People living with HIV in the region are – around two thirds of the global total. Globally, tuberculosis is second only to HIV/AIDS as a cause of illness and death of adults.Although it has only 14% of the world’s population, Africa accounts for more than a quarter of this global burden.
  • Africa has a triple burden of disease. Firstly, non communicable diseases (NCDs). Secondly, the continent has not been able to deal with many of the infections and communicable diseases, including childhood diseases that are no longer prevalent in the developed world. Thirdly, the increasing onslaught of cancer in Africa has been largely overlooked and ignored.
  • Most African countries depend on their so-called development partners for 100% financing of development projects. It is estimated that 80% of inputs into agriculture, education and health are from foreign sources.

Factors constraining development of Africa:

(1) Colonial Rule

  • While African countries have achieved their political emancipation, economic success still eludes most of them. Strong trade and economic links with former colonial powers and over-dependence on aid remains a characteristic of most sub-Saharan African countries.
  • The end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth ushered in the main wave of European settlement and influence in Africa, motivated by interests including wealth, religion, and politics.(More in chapter: Scramble For Africa)

(2) The Cold War

  • The Second World War brought about at least two major developments in Africa.
  • First, it intensified the struggle for independence and self-determination. It was not long after the war ended that the wind of independence swept across Africa. But, as the new fragile nations emerged, they found themselves caught up in another struggle–the Cold War between the East and West.
  • Second, the Cold War shaped post-colonial Africa. The effects of that influence still linger. This era encouraged authoritarian governments to thrive in Africa and caused the economies to fall into an abyss, as the superpowers wrestled for influence. Only after the fall of the Iron Curtain did attention shift to good governance and workable economic policies in Africa

(3) Crisis of leadership:

  • Leaders have not been able to leads to provide the basic necessities for survival,like food, shelter, clothing, health and security and continue to depend on others for even basic needs.

(4) Lack of Faith and Confidence:

  • Loss of faith in our major institutions such as the judiciary and law enforcement agencies generally. There is an alarming breakdown of traditional values and discipline; corruption is more or less institutionalized and no serious attempts are being made to fight it. There is total disregard for environmental sanitation.
  • Africans do not seem to have the confidence to lift themselves out of their misery and are looking to foreigners to solve their problems for them.
  • Most Africans do not see any virtue in working for the future of their countries in the spirit of nation building. Most Africans feel that they have sacrificed enough without any improvements in their lives. There is a general realization that each time they sacrificed, their lives got worse off because governments always took them and their sacrifices for granted.
  • When leaders fail to achieve any appreciable success they give up any hope of improving the lives of the generality of the population and result to amassing wealth for themselves, their families and friends.

(5) Lack of Technological Capability: 

  • Technological Capability is the extent to which countries access, utilize, and create science and technology for the solution of socio – economic problems. To be a part of that world, there must be science and technology elements in the development process. Unfortunately most African Countries lacks it.
  • Most African countries have not been able to change the structure of their economy since political independence and still rely on the export of raw materials such cocoa, gold, timber, bauxite, diamond, manganese and oil, all in the raw form. There is absolutely no value addition.

(6) Education and R&D:

  • Africa has not been able to help produce anything. Most African countries spend almost next to nothing on Research and Development.
  • No country ever developed by borrowing to build infrastructure. ‘Something’ else must be built on the infrastructure. That something is the true development.
  • Over the centuries many Africans have received first class education in Africa and abroad. It appears that educated Africans do better outside Africa than in Africa. There are a number of Africans who are contributing to the development of the United States in various fields. They are successful there because the systems are in place to absorb them. Most African countries do not have meaningful development strategies and so are not able to identify specialists they need to absorb for the development of the nations.
  • Worse still, a lot of African intellectuals are unable to get together to offer solutions to national problems. Rather they align themselves according to their individual tribal, political, religious and other affiliations and seek their own welfare even if that will not be in national interest. In many respects therefore the African intellectual is no different from his uneducated counterpart. Both of them will support their tribes’ people or religious colleagues who have political power because their personal interests will be served.

(7) Corruption:

  • In Africa this asset has been squandered over the years through misgovernment and corruption to the extent that leaders are not trusted and citizens do not see that they have a stake in their country and its future.

(8) Neo-Colonialism:

  • Neocolonialism is the geopolitical practice of using capitalism, business globalization, and cultural imperialism to influence a country, in lieu of either direct military control or indirect political control, i.e. imperialism and hegemony.
  • The neo-colonial involvement of colonial powers in decolonised counties in economic, political and other matters ,with the U.S., as the leading capitalist country of the world, in practise, the principal neo-colonialist political actor.
  • France still interferes too much in political matters of its ex-colonies in Africa and keep them dependent for its own benefits.
  • Dependency theory is the theoretic basis of economic neo-colonialism, which proposes that the global economic system comprises wealthy countries at the center, and poor countries at the periphery. Economic neo-colonialism extracts the human and the natural resources of a peripheral poor country to flow to the economies of the wealthy countries at the center of the global economic system; hence, the poverty of the peripheral countries is the result of how they are integrated in the global economic system.
  • Investment by multinational corporations enriches few in underdeveloped countries, and causes humanitarian, environmental and ecological devastation to the populations which inhabit the neocolonies whose development and economy is now dependent on foreign markets and large scale trade agreements.This results in unsustainable development and perpetual underdevelopment; a dependency which cultivates those countries as reservoirs of cheap labor and raw materials, while restricting their access to advanced production techniques to develop their own economies
  • Chinese investors made deals with the government of African countries to mine its natural resources, filling federal coffers with billions of dollars. Chinese immigrants moved into cities and rural towns. They started construction companies; opened copper, coal, and gem mines; and built hotels and restaurants, all providing new jobs. They set up schools and hospitals. But then instances of corruption, labor abuse, and criminal coverups began to set the relationship between the Chinese and the Africans aflame.
  • To ensure a reliable, long-term supply of food stuffs, the South Korean government and powerful Korean multinational corporations from have bought the exploitation rights to millions of hectares of agricultural land in under-developed countries

(9) Other Factors:

  • The foreign assistance Africa receives is usually not in the form of industries that provide jobs and ensure transfer of technology but are the ones that make the citizens dependent on the perpetual injections of aid. Africa benefits just marginally from its enormous natural resources.
  • For far too long, African leaders have concentrated on providing infrastructure such as roads, schools and hospital for their people. But many roads, schools, hospitals, wells, electricity and other infrastructural projects erroneously called development projects that it can provide, do not alone determine the measures of the success of a Government. Rather the success of true leadership is measured by what extent the people can be mobilized to lead independent lives, so that if for one reason or the other ships and airplanes are unable to come to the country the citizens can stand on their own and survive.

What Needs To Be Done?

  1. There is need for attitudinal change in Africa. They should realize that the overall development of the continent, including the economic, social, cultural and technological development is the responsibility of the Africans. African should exorcise the ‘beggar mentality’ from lives.
  2. The task of political leadership is to unearth the actors needed to transform the nation.
  3. They need to understand that Science, Engineering and Technology will give the capacity to manufacture machines, develop processes and materials and exploit abundant natural resources for national development. No country ever developed without the capacity to manufacture machines. African leaders need to constantly remind themselves that the POVERTY GAP is a TECHNOLOGY GAP.
  4. Africa should do whatever they can to minimize corruption of all shapes and sizes.
  5. African intellectuals should get out of their comfort zones and fight for the socio-economic emancipation of Africans who have contributed to their education. The fight will not be against any foreign powers but rather against corrupt politicians.
  6. Collect all other factors that is causing hindrance in developments (as explained above).

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