Africans need Investment, Infrastructure, Education, Employment and Disease Control, not Foreign Aid
Africa is two worlds: the cities, which are growing economically at a fast pace, and the rural poor who lack infrastructure needed for raising themselves above poverty and disease. Between these are fairly prosperous market agricultural areas and unemployed job seekers who inhabit substandard housing encircling cities.
Poverty is prolonged by long-standing wrong attitudes and practices that are so entrenched in our world view that many do not see any other way. The colonial powers failed to develop the needed infrastructure for development except marginally in the cities, so the rural poor remained isolated and stuck in poverty, disease and unemployment. Upon independence, communists or their puppets replaced colonialists in most of these countries, but continued the same bad practices and attitudes.
Foreign aid has been a disaster for these countries because of the lack of accountability and corruption of local governments. Country leaders kept/keep most of the money and grew/grow extremely wealthy, while at the same time, failing to build roads, railroads, electrical systems, education systems and health facilities, and to develop job opportunities by encouraging investment. Corrupt leaders were/are only accountable to donor nations/organizations and unaccountable to the people. Relying on foreign aid and not the tax base of the country meant there was/is no incentive to encourage investment and to develop infrastructure that would support business expansion and job opportunities.
Communist attitudes toward free markets and propaganda against foreign investment only deepen the tendency to keep these countries poor and under top-down control. At the same time, this situation has fostered violent resistance by factions not favored by the government, which had to be strictly controlled and squashed as it arose. Violence and unrest in any form and government corruption serve to discourage foreign investors as well as charitable organizations that could help raise the health and economy of the rural poor.
Investment and infrastructure are key to economic development and ending extreme poverty. Government to government foreign aid should be stopped immediately except for short-term emergency assistance during disasters, and only with complete accountability about how the money is spent, as well as assurances that the distribution is done fairly. Any foreign assistance for infrastructure projects should involve paying engineering firms directly, not funneling funds through corrupt officials who might pocket most of the money and promise but never deliver results.
African economies have historically been based on agriculture and extraction industries. Most of Africa’s agricultural businesses have been based on small to medium farms, but are profitable only in areas where transportation infrastructure permits access to markets. Development of roads and railroads is important to expand agricultural opportunities and markets. With improved crop varieties and modern agriculture Africa can provide much needed food for the world, but only if markets and ports are accessible.
The exploitation of natural resources by colonial powers without just compensation has been used as an excuse to discourage foreign investment in mining and extraction activities. It is only exploitation if the country and its people do not benefit and profit from the activity. Communist propaganda confuses the two approaches, so that businesses that could benefit the economy are discouraged. Agricultural and extraction industries with their associated infrastructure development can help to raise economies and standards of living by providing jobs and putting an end to high rural unemployment.
In the cities, manufacturing, banking, service, technical and communications industries are rapidly developing in areas where governments have improved business opportunities and practices. Ease of doing business, stable governments with low corruption levels and adequate infrastructure encourage investment that can raise economies. Opportunities and workforce availability make African countries a good place to invest and open new businesses.