Africa has been described as a continent of despair, war, failed states just to mention a few. It’s a continent where leaders overstay in power. It’s a continent where corruption is rampant. Ask the men in the streets and everyone will offer their own thoughts on what’s possibly Africa’s problem. To some, leadership is Africa’s main problem. It is believed, that put the right people in power and Africa will be on the path to development.
How about the argument that corruption is Africa’s problem? Are Africans poor because they are corrupt or they are corrupt because they are poor? Is there causation, or correlation? I belong to the school of thought that has come to believe that poverty is Africa’s problem. It’s not that Africa is poor because it’s corrupt. It’s because Africa is corrupt because it’s poor. Africa’s social services are dysfunctional because of poverty. Africa has weak institutions because of poverty and has low per capita income.
That most of Africa’s symptoms are a result of this low per capita income and poverty. The reason democracy fails Africa is because of the same. Similar arguments have been raised. Political economists have postulated that Development comes after Democracy. The evidence is clear. However, the reverse is preached to African governments. They are told that democracy is what will open up the space for all the glories they seek.
I will now try to explain how poverty is Africa’s main problem by illustrating its causative effects on various problems.
It is not that the citizenry in low-developed countries are poor because of corruption. It’s because of poverty that they resort to corruption. To the poor, corruption is a way of life. Poorly paid policemen will solicit bribes from criminals; poorly paid health administrators will take drugs to private clinics. Politicians will steal public funds and use them to bribe potential voters thus securing themselves another term in office. As countries raise their per capita incomes, institutions become stronger and government becomes more present in people’s lives, as a result, corruption reduces.