Poverty in Africa

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How is it possible that Africa, which is blessed with daily sunshine, frequent rainfall, abundant fertile land and incredibly hard working people still live in an unacceptable poverty? Although provocative it may sound, but as an African living in Europe, I’ve always been confronted with the same question. The more I think of the answer to the question, the more worried – and sometimes, angry – I am. This is a subject that is very dear to my heart because my mother always says, for example,  that she can hardly find a cocoa tree in Holland; however, the amount of chocolate products you can find in the Netherlands – and in the Western world, for that matter – is more than what you have in Africa. How is it possible that we the main suppliers of many raw materials used in the Western world are poverty ridden?

The number of Africans living in poverty is indescribably worrisome. Who do we blame for the unacceptable reality? How do we solve the challenging problem? Are the unfavourable trade agreements with the West the cause of our poverty enslavement? Or is it that the people that we elect into power are questionably incompetent to govern and make the right choices and decisions for us? Could it possibly be that we ourselves deprive each other of climbing the leader of success due to greed and selfishness? Is illiteracy, our major obstacle towards our social, political and economic success? Or are there just not enough business opportunities available? The questions are endless. But the worrisome question I ask myself is: even though we Africans realise what our problems are, are we always that eager to find solutions to them?

Rather than blaming every Tom, Dick, and Harry, I think the first solution to our problem lies in our ability to elect competent and accountable leaders to the positions of power. Definitely, with accountable, honest and competent individuals at the head, we are more likely to get better businesses.

Looking at the African socio-political environment, finding a solution to these problems, won’t be easy. From the shackles and the bondage of corruption, nepotism, greediness, lawlessness, impunity (you name them), Africa faces enormous challenges. But these roadblocks are not limited to Africa. Many developed countries in the world one time or another, faced similar challenges. Despite all the obstacles facing Africa, they can – just like all in the developed world – overcome them with determination and sacrifices. Absolutely, Africans need to take drastic measures to find solutions to their problems. Not only for the sake of the present generation, we must think about and work towards creating a better world for the future generation.

We cannot realise this dream by seeking greener pastures outside of Africa. No. Certainly not! Why don’t we stay in Africa and find solutions to our problems? You cannot build a country by abandoning it. To bring a meaningful change in our society, we must operate within; not from outside. The western world did not build their various countries by leaving them. No, they stayed or went outside, acquire enough knowledge, which they used to develop their lands. This is what we all – including this humble writer – must do. It is high time we changed our mentality and perception of Africa. Unless we start with the mental change, others will never value Africa.

Africa is a continent blessed with cultural heritage, land, minerals and hardworking people. Yes, African leaders have made poverty stay longer than it should. It is the time we kicked it to the dustbin of history. Doubtfully, it may sound,  but it is very much possible to eradicate poverty in Africa. We just need a full commitment. It is now or never!!!


Bridget Awuah