Investigate the Factors that Determine the Well-Being of Africans Today

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Being a native African, it has concerned me that Africa seems to have distanced itself from the general growth of the other continents. During the era of geographic exploration five centuries ago Africa attracted nothing like the attention the Americas and Far East enjoyed. The lack of good harbours and the inexistence of many rivers were just some of the factors that postponed the arrival of explorers for many centuries. After gaining governmental liberation, which occurred predominantly in the 1960s, most African countries were beginning to stimulate mechanisation.

The prominence on industrialization was based on the political belief, by African leaders, that it was obligatory to ensure self-sufficiency. Yet many MEDCs, such as the UK, are continuously providing bilateral aid to Africa. This is probably partly due to disappointment over Africa’s lack of growth, reinforced by the misleading, damaging picture portrayed by the media. The need for a full-bodied African policy is greater than ever. Making progress in contradiction of African poverty and meeting the Millennium Development Goals are raising problematic challenges in most African nations.

In spite of the pockets of success, virtually half the regions populous still lives in extreme poverty, plus, Africa still houses about three-quarters of the world’s deprived countries. This essay reflects both the magnitude of the issues and the forte of the response; sounding a clear warning on the need to move from verbal promises to genuine results in order to meet the Millennium Development Goals by 2015. It reviews the structure and composition of Africa’s trade and political system along with the associated problems of commodity dependence.

It also examines briefly national and international policy measures adopted in the past to address the “commodity problem”, which is at the heart of the continent’s trade performance. There was the anticipation that mechanisation would accelerate the revolution of African countries from agrarian to contemporary economies, create employment opportunities, raise revenues as well as living standards, and reduce vulnerability to terms of trade shocks resulting from dependence on primary commodity exports.

In my eyes, corruption in Africa is a crime against development. In 2009, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Southern Africa Representative Jonathan Lucas labelled corruption as “a crime against development, democracy, education, prosperity, public health and justice – what many would consider the pillars of social well-being. “(1) Transparency International’s 2010 Corruption Perceptions Index – released in October 2010 – identified Africa as the most corrupt region in the world. 2) The Corruption Perceptions Index scores countries based on questions about the effectiveness of public anti-corruption efforts, embezzlement of public funds and assessments of the prevalence of bribery of public officials. The CPI 2010 list ranks six African countries among the 10 most corrupt countries in the mix of the 173 nations surveyed. Somalia heads the list as the most corrupt nation in the world. Amid the top ten are: Chad, Angola, Burundi, Sudan, and Equatorial Guinea.

Countries are scored on a 10-poitn scale, with ten being least corrupt and 0 being most. 44 out of the 47 African nations surveyed scored less than 5, signifying high levels of corruption. The brutality of Africa’s corruption problem is further verified by the least corrupt African country, Botswana, only attaining a score of 5. 8. Below I will list two example putting corruption in human perspective. 1. A bribe demanded by a teacher to enrol a girl at a ‘free’ elementary school could irrevocably block that girl’s education and future opportunities. . A hike in the local cost of drugs by newly elected politicians whose campaigns were supported by pharmaceutical firms might put treatment out of reach of sick people, leaving them unable to work and earn a living. Amounts paid as bribes are often quite small, but the implicit costs are great. The Anti-Corruption Catalyst report shows, through the statistical analysis of data from 42 countries, that where more bribes are paid, there is a lower literacy rate among 15 to 24-year-olds.

A rise in reported bribery is also associated with higher maternal deaths in 64 states, regardless of a country’s wealth or how much it invests in health. Data for 51 countries shows that people’s access to safe drinking water falls as bribery increases. According to Transparency International, reducing bribery has the same effect on improving access to clean water as increasing household incomes. These incidents transform corruption into a somewhat “degenerating tax” on amenities that the poor cannot afford, making basic services inaccessible.

Hence, it is the deprived and vulnerable who suffer most due to corruption as they are more contingent on governmental facilities and public schemes to fulfil their most basic needs. Corruption also results in the unorthodoxy of funds intended for development and undercuts the government’s ability to provide basic services. It also undermines the rule of law, feeding inequality and injustice, discouraging foreign investment, further impeding development. (3) There are also hidden costs associated with corruption.

The costs of a form of corruption termed “quiet corruption” by the World Bank, adversely affect the unfortunate above all. The World Bank’s Africa Development Indicators 2010 shows that civil servants’ failure to deliver Government-run health, education or agricultural services, further endangers Africa’s long-term development. (4) This form of corruption – smaller in financial terms and not usually involving influential officials or large sums of money – is particularly harmful for the poor. One example of this type of low-level corruption comes from Burkina Faso, ranked 98th in Corruption Perception Index with a score of 3. 8. 2) RENLAC, the Burkina Faso anti-corruption network, identified a primary school inspector who used to arrange for teachers posted to rural areas to be transferred back to cities if they paid her small sums of money, thus depriving the rural poor of much needed teachers. (5) In many African countries, teachers at government schools stay away from class or do not take up appointments in remote regions.

The results of this behaviour has shocking long-term effects, as children are left without a proper education because of absentee teachers, resulting in them suffering with low cognitive skills and associated problems in adulthood. 6) It is clear then that corruption in all its forms is a crime against development that blocks attempts at growth and poverty eradication. Corruption impacts most heavily on the poor and vulnerable members in society. Thus, fighting on behalf of the disempowered and ensuring Africa’s development means that the responsibility for dealing with corruption falls squarely on all, from Governments and donors to civil society and citizens.

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