Africa: The Challenge of Development
A. Northern Africa - Five countries, relatively homogeneous Islamic/ Arabic culture. Average income is triple the Sub-Saharan average, supported by mineral resources and convenient ports.
B. West Africa - largest region in Sub-Saharan, including Nigeria and 16 other countries.
C. Central Africa - dominated by D. R. Congo (former Zaire), has the lowest average income.
D. Southern Africa - with mineral wealth and unique polity, Republic of South Africa is richest.
E. East Africa - many troubled countries, some showing new signs of stability and growth under new political leadership.
A. Indigenous Cultures
1. Egyptians of the Old Kingdom - hieroglyphic writing, broad education, developed mathematics, plotted movement of stars and planets, prepared 365-day calendar.
2. Kingdom of Kush - wealthy merchants of ebony, ivory, perfume, and gold. During the 8th century B.C., conquered Egypt and controlled N.E. Africa. Discovered how to make iron; developed a major industry and spread technology to other regions of Africa.
3. Kingdom of Ghana- First major power of West Africa, based in modern Mauritania and Mali during 5th C., A.D. Most people were farmers, but wealth derived from gold mining and iron production. Iron production supported military power, tribute from neighbors.
4. Mali Empire - Replaced Ghana during 13th C; gaining control of the gold-salt trade. Led confederation of 3 states and 12 provinces.
Songhai Kingdom - Based
on Niger River, gained control of gold-salt trade from Malis in late
1300s. By end of 15th C., built largest empire
known in W. Africa. Established efficient provincial
government and enforced system of weights and measures. Timbuktu became
center of Islamic learning.
B. Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade
1. Slavery (usually of conquered people/tribes) was practiced within several regions of Africa before the Europeans arrived, and was conducted with Europe and the Middle East for many years, but grew enormously after Americas were discovered in 1492, revealing a huge labor shortage in the Western Hemisphere. Native populations were decimated, creating labor shortages. Slaves first exported from Africa to the West Indies in 1510. Continued more than three centuries.
2. Africa lost 23 million to the slave trade, including many of the healthiest, strongest, and most skilled workers and craftsmen.
3. The trade was abolished in England, the U.S., Holland, and France during the early 1800s. Sierra Leone and Liberia provided settlements for returning slaves.
UPDATE: Nunn and Wantchekon (2011)
argue that the slave trade caused long-term and continuing harm to
economic development, because it damaged trust within and between
tribal groups, educing cooperation and the effectiveness of local
C. The Colonial Period
1. Short period of "legitimate" commerce between Africa and Europe during mid-1800s.
2. During 1870s-1890s, all African territories except Ethiopia and Liberia divided into 23 colonial possessions, held by 7 European countries. Africans adopted languages and legal systems colonizers.
3. Results of colonialism:
a. Focus on low-cost extraction of primary products. Each colony became dependent on exports of a small number of commodities.
b. Transport routes were built for a single purpose—to move the products of mines and plantations to their external destinations.
c. Dual pattern of export enclaves in the center, migrant labor in periphery.
d. Political boundaries ignored African ethnicities; interrupted indigenous nation-building.
e. Little attention devoted to education of Africans.
f. Little infrastructure built in rural areas, where most of the population lived.
Independence, State Ownership,
E. Socialism, Capitalism, and Authoritarianism
Africa has more than 25% of the world's arable land, and nearly 70% of the African labor force is engaged in agriculture (compared to 16% in Brazil and 1% in the U.S.), however, it produces only about 10% of the world's food, and crisis countries, such as Somalia and South Sudan, are facing famine.
Today, about 85 percent of Africa’s farms are smaller than two hectares (5 acres), compared with about 11% at that scale in the U.S. and Brazil.
According to a World Economic Forum report, the irrigated share of Africa’s cropland is less than a quarter of the world average. Only 4 percent of crop areas are irrigated in sub-Saharan Africa; in com-parison, this represents only a small fraction of the Asian investment in irrigation, where 39 percent of the production area is irrigated in South Asia and 29 percent in East Asia. Nevertheless, agriculture attracts little domestic investment, and very little FDI.
A. Historical Farming Practices
1. Shifting cultivation
2. Settled cultivation
Colonial cash-crop production
B. Land Tenure Systems
1. Tribal communalism
2. European private ownership
Gradual transition to African private ownership
UPDATE from World Bank 2014 report: At the end of apartheid in 1994, 86 percent of all farmland was held by the white minority (10.9 percent of the population). Although a land reform program was launched in 1994 to reduce land ownership inequality by transferring land from white South Africans to the majority and poor black population, as of March 2013, nearly 80 percent of the land was still owned by white minorities. In Kenya, three powerful political families are estimated to own more than 1 million acres of rural land, while at least 4 million rural Kenyan citizens are landless and at least 11 million own less than 1 hectare.
Drawing on Freedom House assessments, Ruchir Sharma finds that only 5 African countries were free or partly free in 1990, and that number rose to 30 in 2009. Progress on that front has apparently stalled, because the number stands at 30 in the 2018 report.
As Sharma emphasizes, lack of power and transportation infrastructure is a major impediment to growth in most of Sub-Saharan Africa. Mexico generates 14 times more power per person than Nigeria, and inadequacy of roads and other transport facilities hamper both internal and international trade..V. Health and Development
Research by Bhattacharyya (2007) indicates that malaria, AIDS, and other infectious diseases have a stronger negative influence on African development than the lingering effects of slave trade or colonialism. Disease, morbidity, and mortality reduces the level and growth of income by:
Directly reducing labor productivity and its growth Reducing saving and investment (including education) by reducing the expected life span..
VII. Resource Curse
Oil, diamonds, and other materials cause rent-seeking behavior and corruption of governments, stunting economic development. See this.
VIII. Cold War and Its Aftermath
Rivalry during Cold War contributed to civil wars, political instability, authoritarian governments, and military orientation of foreign aid. With end of Cold War, foreign aid to Africa declined between 1990 and 1999, and then started growing slowly.