In recent times, Africa has made headlines positively, hosting some of the fastest growing economies globally, according to the African Development Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). This news has been received with jamborees at governmental and institutional pedestals; the President of the African Development Bank (AfDB) remarked “the state of the continent is good. Africa’s general economic performance continues to improve”. It is indeed worth celebrating in consideration of statistical figures, but these figures don’t reflect the reality of the state of things in regards to the welfare of Africans concerned.
According to the 2019 figures, half of the world’s fastest growing economies in terms of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is in Africa, and it is led by Ethiopia, Ivory Coast, Rwanda, Senegal, Ghana, Benin, Kenya, Uganda, Burkina Faso and Tanzania. In an understandable economic explanation, an increase in GDP means there is an increase in economic activities which is, new businesses have started operations and existing businesses are expanding. The introduction of new and expansion of current businesses means, more employment opportunities have been created and poverty rate will certainly reduce.
But in Africa, the positive repercussions of its economic growth is nothing more than a documentation of international institutions, a melodious music in the ears of African policy makers, and a wish, in the thoughts of the citizens. Figures from World Bank have proven that the economic fortunes of Africa translate to poverty on majority of its citizens, and these figures at best reflects only half of the situation in the continent.
According to the World Poverty Clock 2018 data, Africa is a host of thirteen of the fifteen countries where extreme poverty is on a continuous rise. This indicates that, the merriment at the African governmental and institutional level is an agony at the homes of its citizens. According to the report of the World bank, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Mozambique, Kenya, Uganda, South Africa, South Sudan, Zambia, Ghana and Mauritania are the best in hosting people that are extremely poor.
From the foregoing, the report was only for extremely poor people and not the entire poor population. If the entire poor population is to be added, majority of African countries would be celebrated for having over eighty percent of their population poor. Also, it is preposterous to see Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania to be among the countries with extreme poverty; these countries have recorded at a minimum of three years of the said positive economic growth, and now a 2018 report indicts them of being important players in poverty? It is absolutely absurd!
The celebrated economic growth in an ocean of poor people in the continent, is a confirmation that the reported growth statistically, is not of a result of favorable policies being implemented by African policy makers. The statistical growth has no contributions from decisions made by African governments; the growth is a default as a result of international politics and economic competitions of influential countries.
Therefore, the reported growth is a consequence of the rise of commodity prices at international market, and African governments have no influence on the prices. It is factual that, African economies are reliant on the export of mineral commodities, and these commodities are the economy of Africa.
Example, in 2017, sixty-six percent (66%) of Ghana’s total exports in value comprises of Gold and Crude oil, seventy-four percent (74%) Zambia’s total export in value was copper, over eight-nine percent (89.8%) of Nigeria’s total exports in value comprises of Crude oil and Gas, Gold makes over twenty-nine percent (29.3%) of Tanzania’s total exports, over ninety percent (92.9%) of Angola’s exports in value comprises of Crude oil and Gas. In South Africa, Gold, Diamonds and Platinum made up over thirty percent (32.7%) of total exports in value.
Hence, in considerations of facts in regards to the welfare of Africans, there is no economic growth that deserves a jamboree. If there should be a merriment of economic growth, it should be at the households of African families in the continent.
1. ‘Colonialism Reappraised’ by Samasi Anderson, PowerPoint presentation at the 4th annual Lagos Studies Association Conference, 2017. http://www.slideshare.net/SAMASIANDERSON/colonialism-reappraised