Despite a plethora of development indicators, some African nations remain poor. Insurgencies in Mozambique, the lack of economic growth in Niger, and the dictatorship in Ghana are examples of the situation. We’ll examine these trends in order to find a more encompassing answer to the question: why are some African nations still poor? And how can we change that? Let’s consider the issues of poverty in each region.
For decades, Mozambique has operated as a democracy, catering to clientelist interests and ignoring youth employment and inclusive development. That is, until now. Since 2016, militant Islamists have been challenging the state’s monopoly on power in Cabo Delgado province. Partially homegrown, they have attracted international support from IS and link up with organized criminal networks. Corruption has been rampant for decades, allowing organized crime to infiltrate the Mozambican state.
In a bid to address this, the Mozambican government underestimated the threat. Hundreds of thousands of people fled to safety in a country where the government had failed to address a looming threat. In a city surrounded by tin mines and poor infrastructure, coordinated arson attacks destroyed homes, killed civilians, looted food, and forced hundreds of thousands of people to flee.
In response to these challenges, the Mozambique government has largely relied on heavy-handed military tactics. Yet a more effective strategy involves involving local CSOs and media to help the government regain control. After the signing of the Rome peace accords, Mozambique missed an opportunity to build a culture of reconciliation in the country. It failed to establish an official Truth and Reconciliation Commission and ignored the issue of war atrocities. As a result, the Mozambican army is still not well-trained to counter terrorism. Furthermore, morale is low and weapons are often surrendered to the enemy.
While the country has a long coastline and ports in the center and south, it has failed to turn into an access point for landlocked neighboring countries. Mozambique has significant hydroelectric power and renewable energy resources that can be harnessed to meet the country’s energy needs. However, the country’s education system faces several major challenges, including rapid demographic growth and corruption within the system. The majority of Mozambicans attend public schools, so private sector engagement is a challenge.
The failure of SADC to respond to the insurgency in Mozambique has consequences for the region’s security. It has cast doubt on the regional body’s ability to protect its member states and has painted a bleak picture for the region’s security. The insurgency in Mozambique is a concern for South Africa and the rest of SADC.
While a lot of attention has been focused on the military security, the country also neglected its social sectors. However, the country responded positively to the COVID-19 process and received foreign donations from several countries. Therefore, the government is trying to boost the economy by promoting private sector investment and local enterprise engagement. But these projects are insufficient in themselves to provide an opportunity for the youth to get a job.
What causes Mozambique’s insurgence? In Mozambique, the answer lies in the country’s judicial system. The country’s judiciary is notoriously corrupt, and trials for minor crimes can be circumvented by paying off judges and judicial workers. While this situation is unfortunate, it should not be overlooked. Ultimately, Mozambique must improve the country’s economy to ensure its future and stability.
Niger’s economic growth
The agricultural sector is the backbone of Niger’s economy, and accounts for over 50% of its GDP. Livestock production supports 29% of the population and generates 14% of the country’s GDP. Despite this, 53% of the population is actively involved in crop production. Only 15% of the country’s land is arable. In some areas, drought has resulted in the depletion of farmland.
Despite the presence of mineral resources and relatively stable political conditions after 2011, Niger is a poor nation. It gained independence from France in 1960, but has since been subject to military governments. Since then, it has had a democratically elected president, Mamadou Tandja, who ruled from 1999 to 2009. However, despite high hopes, economic development was largely stagnant under Tandja’s rule.
However, Niger’s exports are much lower than its imports. The country exports uranium, peanuts, rice, cotton, and some other goods. It also exports uranium, which is second only to uranium in terms of international trade. It is difficult to quantify livestock exports, which make it nearly impossible to quantify. Despite this, the official statistics don’t account for the influx of large herds of cattle, which cross into Nigeria. Some of the skins are transformed into handicrafts.
The government of Niger often laments its past mistakes, but shows little signs of willingness to learn from them. Its high public debt and widespread corruption are testaments to this unwillingness to learn from the past. In addition, the bureaucratic apparatus lacks institutional memory. While the government recognizes and supports the best practices, the government’s implementation of these measures is often flawed.
While the country has made strides in its economic growth and developed its infrastructure, its public debt has been growing rapidly. As a result, Niger’s public debt has increased tenfold since 2011. Its economy is still plagued by high unemployment, inefficient public spending, and widespread illiteracy. The country is also dependent on oil and uranium revenues, but these aren’t enough to provide for the basic needs of its population.
Despite this growth in economic activity, the political system remains heavily segmented and heavily hierarchical. Despite the democratic system, there are several groups that can undermine the process. Niger’s dependence on military and foreign donors allows the government to exert its influence in its domestic affairs. In addition, the country’s judicial system is weak and vulnerable to political pressure. Corruption is rife, particularly in the taxation system. Bribes are often needed to access public services.
The neoliberal climate and aid conditionality have not been popular in Nigerien society. There are many people who are opposed to the current climate of neoliberalism and aid conditionality. Moreover, many privatization attempts failed because there wasn’t enough capital and a vibrant market to support them. Moreover, most of Nigerien citizens work in the informal sector, driven by the basic logic of free enterprise.
The long-term economic decline of Ghana’s dictatorship may seem insurmountable. The country is one of the world’s top cocoa producers, but prices dropped dramatically in the 1960s and never recovered to the highs of the 1950s. In addition to a deteriorating economic situation, corruption and human rights violations fueled the civil war. Even after a dictatorial regime was overthrown, the country’s citizens remained disaffected and frustrated.
The end of the dictatorship ushered in the first stages of the country’s economic transformation, but it was preceded by political reforms. Ghana’s socialist experimentations undermined the high hopes for the country after its 1957 independence, and an oppressive state apparatus centered on Kwame Nkrumah stalled progress. Several military coups followed, and Ghana experienced several dictatorships.
The Ghanaian democracy generally favors checks and balances, but the executive branch tends to dominate the system when the president is energetic and powerful. Parliamentary scrutiny of the government’s policies is severely hampered by the ruling majority. Further, the ruling majority tries to support the government at all costs and lacks party discipline. Despite the fact that the Ghanaian democracy is undemocratic, it does have some democratic qualities.
While the government of Ghana scores relatively high in terms of its ability to implement policies, it suffers from widespread corruption. The graft that exists in the country is rampant and particularly pronounced in the upper class and among the most influential politicians. This, in turn, reduces public trust in the government, which will eventually negatively affect the country’s democratic system. And even though the government has tried to combat corruption, it has been ineffective.
The economy of Ghana is characterized by a relatively weak public welfare regime. The government provides basic benefits through indirect contributions, mostly to the formal and informal sectors. Moreover, it offers direct subsidies on some essential commodities, such as food. Food and fuel are exempt from Value Added Tax. These benefits are diluted by the general neglect of rural areas. This lack of a competition policy encourages a higher level of unfair trade.
The government of Ghana has adopted a program called the Coronavirus Alleviation Program (CAP) to facilitate the country’s economic recovery. Moreover, it reduced the cap on the Ghana Stabilization Fund from $300 million to $100 million, which enables it to transfer excess funds into the CAP. Amid this economic crisis, the government has reduced the policy rate from 14 percent to fourteen percent, and reduced the regulatory reserve requirement from 10% to 8%. As a result, the government has significantly increased the amount of credit available to the private sector.
The government of Ghana has embraced market oriented policies, social policy interventions, and economic development. It has also introduced free secondary education in government schools. The New Patriotic Party (NPP) has retained power and is committed to continuing fiscal consolidation and enhancing the efficiency of its delivery of public services. Such efforts bode well for the future development of the nation. This is the case for many other African nations.