The recent images of migrants from Sub-Saharan Africa dying on the border of the Spanish territories of Ceuta and Melilla reminded the Northern opinion of the reality of life in the poorest region in the world . Migrants from Sub-Saharan Africa flee such horrible conditions of life, and such a lack of future, that they are willing to do anything to come to Europe . Sub-Saharan Africans are indeed the poorest of the poor. Life expectancy for them is only 46 years old and a large part of the population still lives with less than 1 dollar a day . Development, i.e. the economic growth coupled with an effective improvement in the conditions of life, is stuck in this region. Many factors combined to lead to this situation which seems inextricable. We have to mention all of them to explain why Sub-Saharan Africa is facing such problems, whereas other developing areas have taken-off, such as East Asia. History is a burden for Africa, which has been exploited by other powers for centuries. The complex framework of international balance of powers and economical relations has been weaved considering Africa only as a source of raw materials and cheap labour. Since the time of their independence, Sub-Saharan countries struggle to change this legacy.
[...] In his law of the comparative advantage, the British economist Ricardo developed the idea that in the international trade, each country has to specialise in one production to export it. Barrat Brown, Michael How old is Africa's crisis in Africa's choices. Boulder, Westview Press. P.22 Davidson, Basil “Questions about development”, in Modern Africa; A social and political history. London, Longman. P.220 Davidson, Basil “Colonial systems and the great depression”, in Modern Africa; A social and political history. London, Longman. P.58 AFP, Le FMI va effacer la totalité de l'ardoise des 40 pays les plus endettés in Lemonde.fr December 2005 www.lemonde.fr/web/vi/0,47-0@2- Les belles promesses Source: 2004 World Development Indicators database, World Bank April 2004. [...]
[...] Though these investments are necessary to the Sub- Saharan countries, the pressure from the investors can prevent the development of the country. In Senegal for instance, local investors have created a distribution chain, but they received no help from the government because of the opposition of the foreign investors. As Claude Meillassoux assesses: result is the refusal to allow local capital to be invested in strategic sectors where foreign investment is dominant: banks, air, sea and transport.” Contrary to some Asian countries, especially in East Asia, Sub- Saharan Africa didn't go through a “green revolution”. [...]
[...] Partly due to the lack of hospitals and the cost of medicine, Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest mortality rates in the world. For instance, the mortality rate of children under five was 174 per mille in 2002. Bad nutrition and “traditional” diseases are partly responsible for it. But the African wound is the Aids pandemic. In a decade, Aids has killed 25 million Africans and orphaned 12 million Africans are infected every minute with the HIV virus. In some countries which had reached a certain level of development, Aids has cancelled all the progresses, reducing life expectancy by nearly 40 years. [...]
[...] This would have been a chance to develop if it has been coupled with improvement of skills and work productivity. But instead, more and more people lived in poverty. The immediate result was a brain drain to richer country, which deprived Sub-Saharan Africa of necessary people for its development. On the other hand, more and more people fled the villages to settle in town. This movement has begun during the colonial period, against the will of the colonial power. They wanted workers to stay in the countryside, so they didn't plan anything to accommodate them. [...]
[...] The wealth and power transfer from Africa to Europe was the main consequence of the colonisation. The main reason for African situation is linked to economy. Sub- Saharan Africa had struggled for years to enter the global economy, with little results. Why is that? First of all, decolonisation (mostly in the 1950s) may have brought political independence, but economical dependence has remained. The legacy of the colonial state lays in a very dependent economy. After hundred years of European domination, the African continent didn't have the necessary industrial infrastructures. [...]
Online readingwith our online reader
Content validatedby our reading committee