Why is poverty persistent in Africa? What happened, that caused much of the rest of the world to speed away from Africa in economic growth and development. Today poverty in Sub Saharan Africa is still near 50 percent after all these years. Consider that in 1960, the population of Sub Saharan Africa was about 222 million. So if at that time you had a poverty rate of 50 percent, you would see a population of poor people of only about 111 million people. But in 2018 with a population of a billion people, at 50 percent, 500 million are poor. So the world of poor people in Africa has expanded and is exacting an optic toll on Africa. People visiting Africa will now see a lot more poor people than 60 years ago. And Africans themselves may feel more overwhelmed by poverty by just seeing so much of it. And this is why practical or substantive significance can be far more compelling than statistical significance. 50 percent is not really what matters. What really matters is 500 million people.
This number must be reduced. But how, when it appears that Africans tend to prefer easy street in making money. People sometimes focus more on making money than on value creation, innovation and impact for society. I submit that you will get the money if you create solutions, if you are innovative and create value. Money is paid for value. When money comes to your pocket without much value it is called corruption.
Following independence, it appears that across Africa workers have tended to want to work for the government than in the private sector because they feel the public sector offers better job security, and may also more readily allow you to get easy money. This attitude which has forced people away from private industry may be one of the main reasons for poverty in Africa. Could it represent a climate change that has promoted poverty in Africa? People spend too much energy and resources trying to get or keep a government job. Sometimes people change their ages so much that they continue working when they are obviously not as strong and able as a truly younger person. This crowding out effect causes poor productivity, weak competitiveness and poor incomes, compared to the rest of the world where the private sector is king.
Poverty is also persistent in Africa because of conflict and population growth. Indeed conflict may be a more serious source of poverty than many of the other factors. Even so, in the end, education is really the solution for virtually all of the potential causes. Poverty is not just an affliction of the bottom of society. It also causes a deadly malady that I describe as poverty stress for the so called well to do. So let’s fight it. Let’s fight it and mostly by promoting education, skills and private enterprise. It would be a good thing.