Why is Africa underdeveloped 6

The seven challenges of Africa

The underdevelopment in many parts of Africa has both external and internal causes. According to a recent study by the African Development Bank, there is also a lot of untapped potential.

Africa is facing major challenges: For the current year, experts are expecting average economic growth of 4.5 percent - after 3.9 percent in 2014. The range extends from 6.3 percent in Nigeria to a modest 1.5 percent in South Africa.

In addition to high risks, the emerging situation also harbors considerable opportunities. However, there is no magic formula. This is the result of the “Economic Outlook Africa 2015” presented on Tuesday at the 50th annual meeting of the African Development Bank (ADB) in Abidjan (Ivory Coast). It is published jointly by the ADB Group, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the United Nations.

In a relentless analysis, the report identifies both external and internal causes of the underdevelopment: It criticizes the Western donors, who are currently significantly cutting their development aid for Africa - especially in the poorest countries.

In the short term, however, the experts are somewhat more optimistic again. However, the Ebola epidemic (it cost the three affected economies around 1.4 billion US dollars), increasing regional conflicts and falling raw material prices meant that the scientists had overestimated growth by a whole percentage point in last year's forecast.

The report expressed the hope that increased South-South trade could move the countries forward. So far, only one eighth of the goods traffic in African countries goes to other developing countries. In the long term, political, economic, social, ecological and demographic factors stand in the way of development as obstacles. The population of Africa will almost double from around 1.1 billion people (as of 2013) to two billion in the next 15 years. Just to accommodate the young people who are entering the labor market, around 370 million new jobs would be necessary by 2030. However, the new youthful vigor also offers growth opportunities in the future.

In second place is the climate problem. Africa is more affected by the consequences of global warming than other regions, and the loss of fertile soil due to droughts and erosion is already enormous.

The third challenge for the second largest continent is the increasing imbalance in the distribution of income - both when comparing the states of the continent and when it comes to the distribution within the individual countries. The report calculates that in 2030 at least 300 million Africans will still live in absolute poverty, i.e. less than the equivalent of 1.25 US dollars a day to live on.

The fourth challenge is the growing decoupling from the world market. Africa's share is currently just 3.3 percent. Since two thirds of exports consist of raw materials, these countries are susceptible to the fluctuations in world market prices that have been common for years.

The fifth challenge, according to the report, is the lack of stability in political systems, which often leads to armed conflict. The sixth challenge is the advance of religious fanatics. The seventh challenge is the epidemics and diseases such as Ebola and AIDS.

The report does not recommend a uniform strategy for dealing with the challenges. For some countries, it says, agriculture-based development continues to make sense. Other states, on the other hand, should make better use of the new opportunities offered by digital services.

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