Unfortunately in Africa, a child’s fate is generally fixed at birth. The lucky ones win the “successful parents” lottery while the rest have no choice but to rely on “hope” and “God.” Those who are able to defy the odds and actually turn into successes, like my father, are miracles and testimonies. In 2012, approximately 1.07 billion people were living in 54 different countries in Africa; the number of countries is now 57 and the population is closer to 1.1 billion.
Africa is a resource-rich continent but a majority of the people are very poor with 36.2% of the population living on less than $1 a day. How can this be? Africa has been blessed with almost every natural resource known to man but the inhabitants have managed to turn those resources into curses. And these curses swept through our continent in the form of slavery, wars, diseases, religion and ultimately, death! Africa was once spectacular! We saw the large African empires such as Ghana, Sudan, Asanti and Yoruba that thrived economically and formed strong ties with the Arab kingdoms until the European powers came in around the 1880s, partitioned our continent and forever altered our destinies!
There’s good news for Africa
Nevertheless, Africa will experience a “demographic dividend” by 2035, when its young and growing labor force will have fewer children and retired people as dependents as a proportion of the population, making it more demographically comparable to the US and Europe. It is becoming a more educated labor force, with nearly half expected to have some secondary-level education by 2020. A consumer class is also emerging in Africa and is expected to keep booming. Africa has around 90 million people with household incomes exceeding $5,000. This means that they can direct more than half of their income towards discretionary spending rather than necessities. This number could reach a projected 128 million by 2020. (Lund, Susan and Arend Van Wamelen (7 September 2012). “10 things you didn’t know about the African economy”. The Independent. Retrieved 26 February 2013.)
It still saddens me that our self-destruction hindered our progress and led us down a pathological cycle of unanswerable questions. We must reverse that cycle and luckily, the trends, no matter how slow, are looking good!
- History of Nigeria: http://www.nigeria.gov.ng/2012-10-29-11-05-46/history-of-nigeria
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