Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Shackled Continent (Part III)

5)Africa can hardly be prosperous because of the advance of AIDS.  Thirty million Africans are infected with AIDS.  Three quarters of the world’s AIDS deaths occur in Africa. Life expectancy while rising in the West has fallen in Africa due to HIV. Poverty accelerates the spread of HIV.  Without antibiotics open sores are not treated, and the virus is transmitted more readily.   Poverty of education has also speeded the spread of AIDS.  Some African women believe that without regular infusions of sperm, they will not grow up to be beautiful.  Some African men believe that by having sex with a virgin  they can cleanse themselves of the virus.  The disease strikes people in their prime years (not a disease of the elderly like alzheimers).  Fathers lose jobs, families lose homes, and children are orphaned.  

6) African countries are chronically unstable.  Most  Africans feel more loyalty to their tribe than their nation.   Nepotism is rampant among “elected officials.”   Corrupt politicians use tribal-alliances  to their advantage.  The genocide in in Rwanda of the Tutsis was carefully planned by the Hutu politicians.  Hutu politicians to keep themselves in power coordinated a mindset to hate and kill Tutsis.  Using tribal alliances approximately 800,000 Tutsis were murdered in six weeks; the swiftest genocide in history. 


7) Wealthy countries have too many trade barriers that prevent African countries from selling their exports at reasonable prices.  Africa has fertile land, plenty of sun, and cheap labor. But wealthy countries through quotas, tariffs, and national farm subsidies create an environment where African producers cannot compete.   

8) Civil wars set back countries in Africa and prevent success.  In 1999 1/5 Africans lived in a country currently in civil war.  90% of casualties in civil wars in Africa are civilians.  19 million Africans have been force to flee their homes.   The poorest 1/6th of humanity endures four fifths of the civil wars. What are the risk factors for a civil war: poverty and stagnation.  As the saying goes, “it is easy to give a poor man a cause.” In a vicious cycle of poverty-war-more poverty, it has been shown that a civil war reduces average income by 2.2 percent each year. 


9) Africa needs more successful business but doing business in Africa is risky.  Bad roads and “hungry policeman” at roadblocks makes it costly to move goods even a short distance.  Imported business to Africa say BYOI (Bring your own infrastructure). 

10)Term limits for presidents before the 1980’s in Africa were almost non-existent.  Without term limits bad presidents are never voted out of office.  And without constitutions rogue governments cannot be kept in check.   


11) Most countries in Africa have underdeveloped property rights.  For example in Malawi a person cannot buy or sell land without agreement from the village chief.  If he is able to buy the land but leaves it unattended for a short time the land can be taken .  We take property rights for granted.  In a country with strong property rights you have incentive to improve your land, you can use your land as collateral for a loan, you can divide your land and share assets.  Furthermore, owning land gives you an address. This allows you the ability to develop a credit record, identifiable assets, an incentive to pay off your loans, ability to get electricity, a phone line, the ability to business with strangers.

1 comment:

Megan said...

Fascinating points, but they can leave the reader with a sense of hopelessness. What is to be done?