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Are Fragile States "Too Poor to Grow?"

Shanta Devarajan's picture

Boy plays with tireA recent paper by my colleagues Humberto Lopez and Luis Serven entitled “Too Poor to Grow” asks whether, controlling for other factors, countries with higher poverty rates grow more slowly.  Their answer is “yes”.  The implication is that countries with high poverty may be caught in a poverty trap—they grow more slowly, so poverty rates stay high or even increase, which means they grow even more slowly, and so on. 

The idea echoes the one in Martin Ravallion’s post on this blog about why poverty rates are not converging. 

The two papers got me thinking about the large number (20) of fragile states in Africa.   These states have lower per-capita incomes and growth rates than non-fragile states.  More importantly, many of them have remained fragile states for a long time. 

Could it be that these countries are caught in a low-level equilibrium trap?  And if so, should aid policy—which treats them as worse-performing versions of non-fragile states—be adjusted to take into account the possibility that these countries are “stuck” in low growth, high poverty and poor governance?
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UPDATE: August 27, 2009:

Thanks to all who are taking the time to share their views on this post. Many of you seem to think that education can offer a way out of this vicious cycle. Some don't see hope for Africa until corruption can be successfully tackled. A few others advocate for more individual responsibility.  I was particularly impressed by the story David Kamulegeya shared with us (see the comment titled "it is about the attitude that people have about themselves") in which he describes his own experience navigating out of poverty.

There were a couple of readers who suggested that until Africans are themselves engaged in a debate about solutions to the problems they face, no solution imposed from outside is ever going to work. I agree. One of the goals of this blog is to help inform this debate by sharing analysis and providing a platform for discussion. It is in that spirit that I thank you all again for participating in this dialogue. I hope you will continue to enrich this blog with your experiences, opinions, and  suggestions on how best to end poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Shanta

Comments

Submitted by MD Colorado on
I read this comment with interest and had the immediate reaction that the issue may be too poor to grow, but it may also be too tired to try anything different. Most of the poor that I have worked with in Africa are working very hard and with such a small margin for error that they just keep on keeping on. I know this is well-known, but perhaps a strategy would be to find some ways to give the workers (esp. women) some form of breathing room and training and a small investment to allow them to take on something different. Until that issue is addressed I don't see this changing soon.

Submitted by Michael Aliyo on
As an African living in Africa, I believe that Africa is gifted with tracts of land with some of the highest productivity potential, unexploited mineral resources and cleanest natural water resources. Poverty must be appropriately contexualised, therefore, and where individuals lack the financial resources due to the non existence of a monetized economy, should not imply poverty where communal land holding ANC acess to food and other resources is abundant. However, in another context, and drawing from Armatya Sen's definition, bad governance indeed deprives individuals acess to social programs that would otherwise improve the capabilities of some, so they can meaningfully involve in production. The solution lies in creating sufficient mass awareness in communities, and functional literacy in employees of the Government, to safe guard the public interest. Furthermore, the development of more stringent controls should be championed locally by Africans to reduce "windows of opportunity" through which graft and corruption thrive.

Submitted by MD Colorado on
My immediate reaction to this, based on my experiences working with poor people in E and So. Africa, was "Are they too poor to grow, or too tired to try?" Women in particular are doing so much that their ability to do anything different is a threat to their survival, and the survival of their families. Perhaps designing more programs that would give them a little rest and training and a small loan would do more to ratchet up the low level equilibrium that you speak of. They are as much in need of R&R as the western worker.

Africa will NEVER change until laws are obeyed and blatant curruption is attacked and eradicated. NO GRANTS, LOANS, FINANCIAL AID or WHATEVER can change Africa until the leaders are ready to obey the laws and have indipendent judiciary. The world Bank is just wasting money in Africa. Never give money to African governments--they are currupt beyond repair.

Submitted by Liliana Mosca on
Africa fragile states are condemned to be poor due to the fact that their population in general are not invited to discuss about their future. The programs for improving their economies are never debated neither approved by the people but only by their leaders. ------------------------ prof. Liliana Mosca Docente di Storia e Istituzioni dei Paesi Afro Asiatici Dipartimento di Scienze dello Stato Università degli Studi di Napoli Federico II Via Mezzocannone 4 80134 Napoli Italia tel + (0039) 081 2534080 fax + (0039) 081 2534061 e-mail mosca@unina.it radama01@libero.it ab. Via Giovanni Bausan 18 80121 Napoli Italia tel. (0039) 081 411458 cell. (0039) 339 5045129

Submitted by Lamin Sanyang on
When discussing Africa's poverty situation which is multi-faceted and multidimensional one have to exhaust all sectors of the economy to understand the underlying causative factors. We should take examples from developed countries and ask the question are they developed because of lack of corruption? good governance or sound economic management? or investment in all sectors of the economy by citizen and the state? At the onset of Asian development what are the factors that reduce poverty? No matter how corrupt a government is with investment poverty could be reduced. For example Italy and China are not developed and developing because of lack of corruption. Most European countries have hiden corruption at the level of Africa. But what is important is companies should invest in Africa to create employment for citizens. Taxes paid to the governments by companies could misappropriated by officials but the fact remains that the companies who created employment would not be directly affeceted. Large scale investment will reduce poverty. if the role of the state is reduced, the market should play its role without using factors such as governance and corruption as a condition. some commentators cited economic, political and social stability as a precondition for development. stability can only be brougth by large scale employment and participation. Employment reduces poverty. Imagine, remove just 50 of investment companies in Europe, what for the result. The most serious and fundament problem that is retarding Africas development is corruption that deter investment such as bribe or rent seeking. Africa has never experience large scale investment experience in Europe and Asia

Submitted by Barbara on
The complex remedy for the slowly growing “Fragile States” is only one, namely Education. The complexity of Education is fruitful for the democracies' improvement, better competitiveness, and aid effectiveness. The only problem with education is about its practical implementation. Because of the hierarchy of the human needs, as basically people need to feel the peace (physically and socially) if they only have to focus on education. Fortunately, education might create the long lasting implications for human welfare building and it gives educated people some sense of life, not only sense of “an existence”. Summing up, the way of approaching the reality depends on the chances. The hardest thing is how to create those chances. The best way is when people act themselves, but under the primary condition that they live in a stable, predictable and peaceful conditions, hence “non-Fragile” States. So lets turn to the point how to make those countries to be “Non-Fragile” and then we turn back to the best solution, namely Education.

Submitted by TAO on
Poverty has many sides to it. We can't attempt to fight an octopus for example, and not have multiple strategies. Can I make a quick list of the many faces of poverty? Spiritual death, ignorance, lack of conscience and CORRUPTION! Spiritual awakening is alive in Africa and many initiatives are ongoing to address the previous ones but if the Washington Institutions, together with other multilaterals, can stregthen the fight against corruption, the fight is half won. There is nothing "mega" about this.

In a WB hospitality industry pilot in Nigeria (TEMPO) we have found that hotels, fast food and SMSEs in the tourism value chain can open entry-level employment and new business opportunities to unemployed youth and women and underemployed entrepreneurs. Our project is now incentivizing NGOs, donor organizations and public agencies to favor venues in provincial destinations and under local control for their consultants, meetings and other hospitality needs. The WB Nigeria economist has been in the leadership in Africa in redefining the terms of reference for hospitality and tourism, a model that may be emulated in projects across Africa.

Submitted by Anonymous on
The Challenges ahead of Africans are great but none that cannot be overcome. Africa has seen some changes in past couple of years - albeit slow. However I recommend that Africans should - 1. Invest in education - educate the masses This will result in knowledgeable people that can adhere to society governance infrastructures. These infrastructures will reduce Corruption - which is at the helm of stagnating African growth. 2. Invest in reliable power supply - China like many african countries are in the same category - that is a 3rd world country. However look at the production coming out of China. I believe, that if the intermittent power supply issues are resolved, more companies will see the cheap better English speaking labor supply that currently is in Africa. 3. Invest in reliable communication infrastructures - The need for people to communicate quickly in a business environment has never been more true in the Email/Cell phone world. Investing in infrastructures that will help to reduce the cost of communication will help facilitate reduce the cost of doing business. 4. Governance issue Most African countries are plagued with issues of corruption, archaic processes, and the older generation running most organizations. I believe it is time for the old generation to usher in a new era of responsibility by encouraging the young generation to take on issues that are important to the growth of our nations. This will help a smooth transition when the old are gone. The new generation, hopefully, understanding the need to grow and compete in the modern world will implement or update processes and be responsive to the environment. 5. Green revolution This has worked in some countries at a price. There is room for some more countries to try it. Once nations are self sustain in food production, they can focus on other important issues. 6. For supporters of Africa Different organisations support African in different capacities. While the work they are doing is good for those receiving the help/aid/donations, time and time again we hear of how the monetary distribution is disproportional. Disproportional in a sense that, a larger portion of the funding goes salaries (of the Expatriates). I propose, get fewer Expatriates, get more locals, teach them the processes - after all when the expatriate leaves, these are the very same people that will run the programs. 7. Health Discussing growth in Africa will be amiss if we do not mention the ravaging impact of diseases killing Africans. Some diseases like - Malaria that have been (to a point) eradicated in other parts of the world. We Africans lets do exactly the same thing that other countries did to reduce the effects of Malaria. The risks are there, but far less than being killed by Malaria each year.

Greetings, it is a known fact that an educated population will find innovative ways to move its nation forward irregardless of the resources available. only Africa own ingenuity will save it.

Submitted by Anonymous on
Yes. The cycle of poverty in such states is unlikely to be broken by financial aid alone. What is needed is the equivalent of a culture shock / cultural revolution in these states One way to bring this about is to exchange 50% of the population of such a state with 50% of a developed state for a limited period of say 5years to facilitate cultural "cross polination".

Submitted by Anonymous on
Too poor it means without any ability and opportunity. No, I don't believe it. From empirical point vue, we see actors in Afrika (ONG and Firma) who are operating with full efficiency in front of opportunity. The question is: who really has identified these Actors? Who far have they been granted without falling in kind of path dependancy from Collaps States that are regulating. I think the WB and intitutions should take some risk of developping direct partnrership with private actors and help protecting their activities with good state regulations. Strong private Actors bring good governance (Adam, S).

Submitted by Simon on
I am not going to write a dissertation on this subject. I will rather keep it very simple: Africa does not need more aid. What Africa needs is a) proper education, b) assistance to develop small and medium companies especially in the agriculture sector (instead of selling the good lands to foreigners) and c) functioning governing structures such as the judicial branch. Once Africa has better control of the above-mentioned, the rest will fall in place, things will get a lot better. I may be accused of being too simplistic; that’s OK; but I strongly believe that Africa needs a paradigm shift to start taking care of itself and rely less on the outside world.

Submitted by David on
My point is that providing education opportunity is vital and key thing for fragile African states. not food, not money. I have been ever working in Africa for several years. I know local people and what they really want. Only education can change current status of these people. They don't need that other people tell them what they need to do. They only need learn and make them to know how to do by themselves. Otherwise nothing can be changed.

Submitted by Baleja Saidi on
Direct each concerned fragile State to set up a policy advisory and monitoring council equivalent to The US Council of Economic Advisors, in the Office of the President. It should be aunomous/independent to advise on policies and coordinate with concerned technical Ministries to ensure prioritisation and implementation are adhered to like a bible: removal of the binding constraints in order of priority ie the most binding are dealt with first, eg corruption, low saving, low investment, quality infrastrucute, etc

Submitted by Zaid on
The underlying problem in African fragile states is political instability and governance. Political: Power struggle has blinded government. They have been dragging the population in unnecessary civil wars and the parties are today to shy, arrogant or ashame to work together. Governance: Corruption has been running high for many years. The evaporating capacity of financial aid is much higher than its absorption capacity. Government have been paying lips to rule of law and separation of powers. For those two reasons it has not been deemed important to build the capacity of the countries nor to encourage private investment. That's one side of the coin. On the other side of corrupted one can find corruptors. The other side of elected dictatorship there is foreign incursion. Foreign aid comes and natural resources leave the countries. Local capacity is too low to make changes. So, they rely only on foreigner to tell them what to do. Education can make a huge change. But in an environment of political instability brain drain is much to be expected specially if some developed countries have set the framework to capture them. NGO have an important role. But they have become excuses for government to depart from their responsibility. NGO can only palliate problems - like hair lotion will do to some having cancer but will never be able to change a society. Africa need honest leaders and educated population.Can foreign aid bring that? For the rest they have enough resources to feed the whole world.

Submitted by Starr Hart-Meekums on
It is a very sad state of affairs indeed. Knowing the reason why these things happen is helpful but it is a bit like scrambled eggs, they can never be a whole egg again. All people in Africa require the ability to look after their own well being, the ability to earn their own living. The Africa Region within the World Bank on its own could make it possible should the top advisors actually deliver. I propose that the Blog culture only delivers potential workable IDEAS. So far management are still unable to act on the HELP they require. To utilise a blog line of communication to solve problems is a low level approach. I personally, communicate solutions to the Cheif Economist, the VP Africa Region and all their top level departments. Since they did not even reply, why should anyone respond to their request for HELP via a blog? It is my worst nightmare, knowing the top advisors will not accept HELP when they are offered it. Please review your IN post box, cross refer to my comments and respond. When world leaders egnore the fact that private sector involvement will make a significant difference, is it any wonder that the tax payers of this world are in dispare. I await a reply; that is should Dr Shanta Devarajan or his VP Mrs Oby Ezekwesili, Mr Bruce Colin, Mr Michel Wormser, Mr Eric Chinje, or Ms Marilou Uy care to read my proposal. It may still be in their individaul IN POST BOX, if not contact me. With sincer anticipation, Ms Starr Hart-Meekums CEO World Wide Communication Ltd. Founder Africa Circular Sustainable Markets (CSM) +44 (0) 1787 313191

Submitted by Anonymous on
With few exceptions, most African institutions have not been able to develop programs to adequately address the issue of poverty. Poor accountability, complacent leaders and high tolerance for corruption in society means this is unlikely to change for a long time. In addition, aid policy is still not owned by the African people - discussions are still at the level of bureaucrats and the donor community. Development policy continues to be dictated by the conditions for acquiring donor funding as opposed to reflecting local realities. Until these change, it is unlikey for Africans (fragile state or not) to move out of this 'low-level equilibrium trap'.

Unfortunately most of the growth that has taken place in Africa have been built on "Sinking Sand" without the required solid foundation to make them sustainable - this is why it sometime feel we are taking two steps forward and three backward. Fire Fighting Solutions and Crisis Management Solutions do not have the luxury of sustainable thinking as they are preoccupied with immediate, instant relief and solutions. Solid Foundation is born out of developed infrastructure and good education for ALL gender - In Africa, Infrastructure Development and Basic Training of its citizens must be the governments' responsible - this was the foundation stones of the developed countries - private enterprise should only come on board when there is something to grow. Power, Water, Education and Roads etc must first be in place before development can be sustained. As for the poor nations, the rich nations must roll up their sleeves and get involve, because to get in involve is to create future new markets, to abandon them is to create future no-go countries.

Submitted by Michael Coombes on
I have to agree with what Simon has written, the only way for Africa to drag itself out of this sinkhole is to have a paradigm shift in thinking. Simply put, there are many ways of addressing these widespread problems and I worry that many institutions and agencies working for the good of Africa are sticking with the same basic mindsets. Ultimately, though, no real change is going to happen without strong, enlightened leadership that is prepared to implement and stick with innovative solutions. I am not advocating more strong men in Africa, I'm sure we all agree there are still too many around, but I do feel that with good leadership and an innovative mindset issues such as education, agriculture, small enterprise development, the role of women and many of the rest could be successfully dealt with. It won't happen overnight and it will be tough, but I believe that it could work. I suppose that being an African myself (even if I am from European stock), I need to believe it can.

Submitted by Udo Etukudo on
The biggest challenge facing African economies today is how to improve the delivery of Aid, but how to improve revenue generation capacities from domestic production. Not enough is being done on the continent to stimulate the climate for domestic business activity and infrastructure development to take place. External Aid has become so popular in many African countries today that it eclipses government revenue collections in some of them. The importance of domestic resources cannot be overstated for both fragile and non-fragile states alike, because it is the basis for achieving long-term domestic capital accumulation and institution building that is vital for economic take-off and development. In general, Aid has failed Africa simply because it has failed to do what it was intended to; that is, provide the catalyst for economic growth and sustainable increases in domestic resources.

Submitted by Egon Weinmueller on
Hello, probably one of the biggest drivers for poverty reduction in poorest Africa is Malaria prevention. Malaria prevention means children can go to school more often and get better education, women can work more growing food for their families and may be even produce some supply for the local market, men loose less workhours etc. UN has put a high target to have 100% coverage of the population on malaria prevention in malaria endemic countries in africa until the end of 2010. That should also Whelp to reduce poverty.

Submitted by Anonymous on
I think that I remember a speech by former President K. Kaunda of Zambia where he maintained that one of the problems of Africa is that there is no safety net for people. In my view this means that anyone in an impoverished country that is fortunate enough to access money or wealth will as a first instance think for himself or herself. I have friends in Zambia for example, that have made fortunes for themselves, and they have been thinking now of giving something back to the country that has been so good for them. Therefore, my view is that one area (just one of the many areas needing attention) of help that more prosperous countries should offer is some support for security, and institutional development. The base should be formed, in my view for people to be able to operate their businesses, small or big, without fear of loosing everything due to various factors (theft, instability, desease). Pension and social security should be strengthened. Education is paramount. In my view, unless basics such as above are not provided funding for projects will be wasted. best regards

Submitted by David Kamulegeya on
in the previous years I used to have feelings that I will die in poverty. and I thought I was the only person who was in the most horrible situation but one day I wake up early in the morning and said No to this hopeless state I was in I made a commitment to set up some important goals that have enabled me to become better first to obtain my education because i wanted to achieve this I decided to fetch water and saved some little income for my education till I reached some where and Joined an NGO as a volonteer worker and in this i demonstrated my ability and every one gave me attention and finally recieved a sponsor who helped me through out university. young people tend to loose hope and tend to spend alotof their time in iddle things this has druged them in absolutepoverty therefore they need to change their attitude there is no one who was born to be poor we are all equal and we can determine our destiny what you belive to be is what you become. break the chain and change your life for the better David

Submitted by Leo de Feiter on
I wonder whether the framing of the question is not showing exactly what one the key problems is. Why is reclassifying states from worse-performing non-fragile ones to trapped fragile ones (if I understand it correctly) going to make a difference? It seems to assume that there is a grand theory of development and that it is only a matter of finding the key factors and right classifications for things to go better. I believe that it is rather the tendency for 'one-size-fits-all' approaches and the quest for 'silver bullets of development' that is the problem. Africa is diverse, both between and within countries. Situations have also to be looked at individually in their complexity, and not just as cases in some grand theory, be it economic, educational, political or otherwise. Of course more education, less corruption, better infrastructure, are all part of the solution, but how much of what at what time can not be answered simplistically without looking in detail at a certain situation. Knowledge about development and what has worked elsewhere can of course help in finding answers, not as recipes to follow, but as a potential sources of ideas for people to find solutions for their own situation. Development is both about top-down, bottom-up and horizontal cross-over processes and about finding good ways to move and learn. It is not education that it is the answer, but learning. Often schools are not the best places for learning.

Submitted by Anonymous on
In life, in business, in a game, even in education etc..it is the choice we make, the sacrifice leave alone the risk we intend to take and the vision we have. Our education system needs to embody, knowledge, vision and problem solving skills. Yet some will state this is the aim of education, the truth be told o current education system is quantified and summed up by a 3 hrs exams report and printed on a certificate. Little or no attention is paid to post education period, where potential scholars, researchers, planners, policy makers, thinkers etc are natured with a twofold intention; for their careers and consequently to the greater good of the society by their action. The west is where it is because of precise strategic management of people choice, course of action, and commitment to means to an end and beyond. So the African issues can be written down every year and the list will not look different from this: 1. Consolidation of democratic political power by a few individual who still control the economic democracy. I must point out that almost majority of Africans are unaware of what sought of governance system is subjected to them because it is neither capitalism, socialism nor communism. Prosperous Africa need people with economic means so as the can be able to influence the political democracy. However by the time African is made knowledgeable on her right to economic democracy, a lot will have happened. 2. Lack of a game plan/Policy Failure to plan is planning to fail, I talk as the new generation of African children and an elite. All the city plan, infrastructure plan, housing plan, etc are still as they were drafted by the pioneers (colonialist) regime in Africa. By this I mean there has been no game plan and policy and thus our leadership has been reactive and short of matching the public needs with current policies. The hurried manners in which these policies are being carried out or instituted are the source of all evils in Africa. 3. Government Investment It is bitter truth to know that majority of African Governments are broke, despite the fact they continue to tax it citizens heavily. Proceeds from taxation and other form government revenue has not been used to invest in necessities, like education, infrastructure, etc The current amount of investment needed to put Africa investment in sound condition require huge investment from IMF and WB on condition that it will be used on productive investment. 4. As marketing is essential to business organization so is research and development to government. We live in a world of scarce resources and some of the natural resources Africa has are non renewable. Alternative ways of doing almost everything should be given priority. However with a few exceptions African countries lack commitment to investing in research and development. R&D in education, science, farming, the list is endless. Africa is not going to become competitive by ignoring this investment, the potential and skills available in Africa is so immense that the world is grinding to a halt with this wastage. 5. The other issues to be looked at proudly rather than with stigma include the potential to harness and market African heritage, promotion of entrepreneurship spirit, and development of ethical institution to deal with the culture of impunity and recklessness. I believe having African countries with dependable economies, adequate infrastructure, reduced business and political risks, being able to mitigate and control catastrophes, and safer zones for all visitors is not a dream or myth but reality.

Submitted by Anonymous on
The wealth of these Nations of Africa need to be redistributed as there are a few people holding on to these wealth through corrupt enrichment thereby depriving the less priviledged. They take advantage of their positions in the society. They allowed all infrastruture to collapse unattended to they because they profit from it. Until and when they are brought to book there would not be growth in Africa. Poverty would continue to grow. They actually know what is right because they are all exposed to development, In most cases they were encouraged by the developed nations and not until the developed world start churning they they would continue to perpetuate thes exploitative acts.

Submitted by margaret on
I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often. Margaret http://grantsforeducation.info

Submitted by winfred on
Thanks, you column was informative and i hope it will make an impact to me and Africa as a whole.

Submitted by assumpta Bekeny on
The only way of getting Africa out of poverty is by getting them involve in the process. i believe there are many African who are willing to take part in discussing the needs of Africa but are not given the chance. First, the West should stop brain draining, then young and passionate Africans who are willing to make the change should be given a chance to show what they can do.

Submitted by TAO on
There are many complex issues to address. But can we start with CORRUPTION? By the time we are done with corruption, I think we should be closer to the finishing mark than we thought! Let's all take a while and think deeply about it

Submitted by David on
Recently I helped co-author a paper for one of my collage courses. We used the paper "Too Poor To Grow" as the basis of our arguments. The conclusions that we came up with are based on improving the agriculture base of a country thus allowing those tied down with just trying to survive by growing their own crops the ability to be retrained for higher value jobs (I know that sounds a bit simplistic, but bear with me). At the same, any company that was to profit from the importation of new technologies would have to pick up some portion (in conjuction with the local government or outside sources) of this retraining expense. Now the problem is there are no industries in most to the impoverished countries to speak of. This brings us to linkage. This needs to be taken on a country by country basis and the plan must be extremely flexible at the start. If this is an agriculture based society, the business that support those industries need to be cultivated. This could mean canneries and other packaging business just to give you a taste of what I am talking about. As the people who once farmed the fields are allowed to improve themselves, more industries will sprout up due to the need for consumption. Now the former field worker must buy his rice or meat as they are not raising it themselves and etc. The final pieces to the puzzle are education and health care. These go hand in hand as the life expectancy of a population needs to increase if there is to be a return on the education investment. Put very bluntly, there is no profit in educating a person that is expected to die within 10 to 15 years. They just have not had the time to contribute to society at a high enough rate to warrant the investment.Along with this education, if the students are sent abroad to study, there musk be very attractive incentives for them to return home. The draw of the western lifestyle is just too strong to hope the brightest return home. That is the only way the 'brain drain' can stop. Of course all of this is based on the idea that idea that the ruling forces within the government are supportive of change and allow all of this to happen. That is by far the hardest part without any answer from us in our paper as it was outside of our scope of work. Also all of this needs to be worked out in a very time sensitive plan that will allow each of this programs to be implemented as needed. We can no longer just send money or just send technology. This is a historical problem that is going to take at least a generation to get on track. That does not mean that there is time to wait to get started. There should be no excuse for a population to live in extreme poverty in this day and age. If we are really serious about it as an entire world population, then it can be changed. We will all have to pay the price of time. I am very interested in hearing what other, more involved people have to say on this matter.

Submitted by Robert Frank on
I have to agree with what Michael Coombes has written, the only way for Africa to drag itself out of this sinkhole is to have a paradigm shift in thinking. What Africa needs is proper education, assistance to develop small and medium companies especially in the agriculture sector. Only education can change current status of these people. They don't need that other people tell them what they need to do. Best regards, Robert Frank, project manager http://mytrailer.net

Wow! I could not agree with Michael Aliyo's contribution (above) more! What can I add to such a succinct observation? Only that Mr. Aliyo should definitely share his well-thought perspective throughout his continent and witness some exciting changes.

I agree with the above comments as well as your update to this post: Corruption must be tackled before major progress can be made. It's unfortunate, but true.

With a large number of fragile states in Africa, as you mentioned, it will be tough to tackle economic issues. Plus, as others have stated, corruption is rampant.

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