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Can sub-Saharan Africa overcome underdevelopment?

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The presidential and local elections took place a few months ago in Nigeria. The voting was marred by multiple frauds and a hundred murders (about 200 people were killed, according to estimates by the European Union). The European Union has recognized this election process as a whole ?could be regarded as credible and trustworthy'.

This abortive attempt to establish a true democracy has destroyed the hopes of seeing the country come out of corruption, violence and misuse of oil wealth for the sole benefit of elites. This bleak picture may be used by pessimists as further proof that Africa will never break the impasse in which it is; that of poverty and underdevelopment. Such findings are not new.

In 1866, McCulloch thought that Africa would never be included in European countries. Why should we stop thinking that Africa is indeed doomed? One might wonder if it was appropriate to establish Nigeria as a representative example of what happens in the African continent. In recent years, the continent has made some progress, admittedly modest but encouraging, towards greater prosperity, greater stability and greater respect for democracy. It is true that much remains to be done.

Many characteristics of the Nigerian elections, corruption and mismanagement are still the corollary of many other African countries. The 80s saw the continent plunging into recession and poverty. The comparison with Asia is final. Many Asian countries suffer the same humiliation and even colonial plundering of resources as in Africa.

However, according to the World Bank, per capita income in 48 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa has increased by an average of 25% between 1960 and 2005. It has increased 34 times faster in East Asia, in countries like Malaysia and South Korea which were, a few decades ago, as poor as Ghana and Kenya. But still, progress is being made, and the recent IMF figures on growth in the world give hope that things will continue to improve. Can the SSA overcome underdevelopment?

This does not of course bring all the evidence that Africa can develop, or an exhaustive list of all means to lift the continent out of underdevelopment. We will try to show what the drivers of change are in recent years, which call for greater optimism about the overall economic situation to come.

We also will study the economic situation in some countries to see if they are already on the path of development. In conclusion we will discuss the challenges that lie ahead for the design development of Africa. We use the term to refer to the contrast between rich and poor countries, that is to say that no development resulted in poor countries and for various reasons related to poverty, education and health.

Economic growth, measured by GDP, differs from economic development, defined as "an endogenous process and cumulative productivity gains and reduce inequalities in the long run, to social and environmental costs acceptable. There is also a sociocultural variable, allowing a growing number of people to move from a position of vulnerability and insecurity in a position of greater control over uncertainty, instability and basic needs."

The aggregate chosen to measure the development is the Human Development Index (HDI). It reflects life expectancy at birth, literacy rate and GDP per capita adjusted (that is to say, taking into account the purchasing power parity of currencies).

Tags: Africa; sub-Saharan Africa; underdevelopment in Africa; overcoming underdevelopment

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