Despite growth reports, Africa mired in poverty

Despite growth reports, Africa mired in poverty
Despite continued reports of economic growth in Africa, much of the continent remains wracked by poverty, according to the largest survey of African citizens. Credit: Michigan State University

Despite continued reports of economic growth in Africa, much of the continent remains wracked by poverty, with roughly one in five citizens saying they frequently lack food, clean water and medical care, according to the largest survey of African citizens.

This suggests the growth is not trickling down to the poorest or that actual growth rates are inflated, said Carolyn Logan, assistant professor of political science at Michigan State University and deputy director of the survey, called the Afrobarometer.

"The survey results show there is a disconnect between reported growth and the persistence – in both frequency and severity – of poverty among ordinary citizens," Logan said. "It's evident that African governments need to focus as much attention on efforts as they are on growing their economies."

The fifth round of the Afrobarometer, which comes out every several years, was released today in Johannesburg. Thirty-four countries were surveyed – up from 20 countries during the last round of surveys in 2008-9 – making it the most comprehensive look at life in Africa since the Afrobarometer was started in 1999.

The release of today's findings on and economic conditions is the first of seven release events in African cities up through Dec. 12. Future topics include democracy, corruption and Internet usage.

According to the current findings, 17 percent of Africans say they frequently go without food, 22 percent lack on a regular basis, and 20 percent often go without . About 50 percent do without these necessities at least occasionally. The problem is particularly striking in West Africa and East Africa, and less so in the northern and southern regions of the continent.

In addition, 53 percent of Africans rated their national economy negatively. And 38 percent said their has gotten worse in the past year.

Moreover, Africans give their governments failing marks for economic management. Fifty-six percent say they are doing a bad job of managing the economy and even higher numbers rate them poorly for improving the living standards of the poor (69 percent), creating jobs (71 percent) and narrowing income gaps (76 percent).

The findings come despite the fact that Africa's grew by an average of 4.8 percent between 2002 and 2011, making Africa a new darling of portfolio investors and prompting The Economist magazine to tag Africa as "The Hopeful Continent."

The Afrobarometer is an independent, nonpartisan research project co-founded by Michael Bratton, University Distinguished Professor at MSU. Bratton currently serves as senior adviser on the project.

Explore further

S.Africa behind other African states in Internet access

Citation: Despite growth reports, Africa mired in poverty (2013, October 1) retrieved 23 August 2019 from
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

Feedback to editors

User comments

Oct 01, 2013
Colonialism ended and most states have been a kleptocracy since.

Oct 01, 2013
And will remain in poverty as long as socialist regimes are in power.

Oct 01, 2013
Why am I not surprised the Rand Brigade supports colonialism?

Oct 02, 2013
Poverty is a measure of the lack of opportunity to work. Since the other 2 factors for production are land and durable capital, the answer lays in the governments making these two vital requisits more easily available. Land in particular should be in a suitable place near to population centers, but much of this land, slated for development, is in the hands of speculators who don't use it but simply wait for its price to rise before selling it for later use. Such speculation is the main cause of unemployment because the shortage of durable capital goods can be made up as the entrepreneurship grows. The gains to the speculators and their supporters the banks are not fed back into the system but invested elsewhere.

By taxing land values instead of incomes, purchases and capital gains, a sensible and moral African government can eliminate poverty and help in its county's progress due to lower production costs and greater demand for consumer goods.

Oct 02, 2013
After the socialist Mugabe forced successful white farmers off their farms, (govt failing to protect private property), production stalled and people starved.
a sensible and moral African government

Africa is a continent with many nation-states.
Sensible and moral govts would protect the property rights of their citizens, all citizens, not just favored tribes.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more