Bono might be happy

Africa ‘sees 6% economic growth’

But if you look a little closer, it may not be all its cracked up to be.

First off the, 2 of the 3 countries expected to have strong 7% growth rates, Nigeria and Algeria, are economies based on petroleum. Africa’s GDP is growing due to their exporting of natural resources to China and the west while still not developing their own capability to manufacture finished goods or increase trade within the continent. In fact, in an article which highlights supposed progress of Africa, it is mentioned that Asian textile producers are hurting Madagascar and Mauritus. While the amount of raw materials traded increases, the industries of the continent that add value to goods before trading them are actually declining. This is not the right type of growth needed in order to halve extreme poverty in eight years, as is the goal of the African Development Bank.

The solution to solving extreme poverty is not the further exploitation of the continent through neocolonialism, but instead the building of infrastructure. The satellite image of the capital of The Republic of Congo, Brazzaville, population 1.8 million and the capital of The Democratic Republic of Congo, Kinshasa, population 8.9 million, demonstrates the lack of infrastructure perfectly. There you have two large cities, both capitals, across the river from one another and there is no bridge and with that no way to easily and quickly transport goods and people. Luckilly, there are plans by The New Partnership for Africa’s Development to construct a bridge.

Kinshasa and Brazzaville, two giants, without a bridge

Roads and bridges are not the only areas in need. In 2003, only 55 percent of urban residents in Sub-Saharan Africa had access to adequate sanitation1. The Director for Energy and Water has said that, “we expect 60 percent of sub-Saharan Africans will still lack electricity in 20202.” These two statistics show that Africa still has a long way to go and there needs to be a rapid turnaround. Allowing the main influence in the region to be hostile regimes like that of President Mugabe in Zimbabwe, is not a way to acheive such a turnaround.

So what are possible real solutions? Direct investment needs to go towards the electricity and water infrastructure and not just the oil pipelines in the wealthier nations. A stronger transportation netowork would also be a wise investment in order to allow for internal movement of people and materials which could inspire growth in new industries. Better networks within all of Africa will allow for better distribution of food and help both the hungry and the struggling farmers who have been hurt by globalization as subsidized American food hits their markets. We need to consider these facts ideas before we look at a raw 6% growth number and declare it a step in the right direction.




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