The Paradox of Growth: Africa’s Unmaximized Potential

With a population estimated in 2015 by the World Bank to be roughly 1.2 billion people, made up of 54 countries, Africa is heavily endowed. Even with its fertile soil, cultural diversity, natural resources, rich biodiversity, mineral resources and human capital this continent still suffers from the worst forms of underdevelopment, including poverty, poor governance, climate change and slow economic growth. However, the question to ask is why a continent with such rich potentials and resources still remains underdeveloped and poorly governed.

Researchers, scholars and academics have for quite some time been concerned by the pressing problem of development and growth in Africa, referring to it’s resource-rich potentials as “The Paradox of Growth”. Subsequently, the continued civil unrest, widespread corruption and despotic regimes in most African countries have had a massive contribution in slowing down the engine of change and development. Between 1995 and 2005 it was widely demonstrated that infrastructural investment contributed to more than half of Africa’s growth performance. However, these infrastructural investments and maintenances can be very expensive, especially in landlocked and sparsely populated countries, hereby pumping the brakes of economic growth that may lead to achieving sustainable development goals by 2025.

The African economy relies solely on trade, industry, agriculture and human resources, but the poor governance and corruption perpetrated by it leaders in certain countries contribute heavily to the backwardness and underdevelopment of the majorly black continent. In 2013, Africa was identified as the poorest inhabited continent in the world. If current growth rates continue, the World Bank expects that most African countries will reach middle-income status by 2025, where most people will have an income on $1000 USD. However, the high quality research and analysis focused on attaining sustainable economic development and prosperity in Africa clearly demonstrates that the continent still suffers from poor governance, political instability, corruption and poverty.

In the same line, many African people have drifted away from agriculture to white-collar jobs forgetting that agriculture remains the back bone of every sound economy. Many states in African are blessed with rich fertile land, but due to laziness, environmental degradation, desertification, poor farming habit, transaction cost and inadequate training of rural women on new farming techniques. the potentials of Africa to remain the giant continent of word have been severely weakened.

While efforts have been made to better Africa’s situation and boost its economic and social sectors, the political structure of most African countries still remains unchanged, despite a calls for political reform by international observers and the European Union. This is mostly due to the fact that African leaders are power mongers who, once in power, decide to “eternalize” themselves, thwarting the face of their respective countries constitution.

In a nut shell, for the debate surrounding “The Paradox of Growth” to seize in Africa there must be a strong political reform that cuts across economic benefits, social considerations and environmental protection.

Adewale Daniel Omojowo
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