Both sides of the African poverty industry debate

The Afrobarometer research project says that access to food, healthcare and education is still terrible for millions

The impression from travelling in Africa, including in many rural parts, is that things are improving for the poorest. Having visited about half of Africa’s 55 countries this year or last, Baobab thinks the report’s findings seem odd. In most places, the poor have benefitted from the growth in economic activity, as one might expect. Even some corrupt governments build roads and clinics. Businesses spend money, some of which eventually drips down to the neediest.

Admittedly, it is often the middle class and the rich who benefit most. They have seen truly dramatic improvements in living standards in the past decade. But they are not the sole beneficiaries of Africa’s boom.

Investment banks pump up opportunities in Africa to make a quick buck. Africa-watchers offended by their hyperbole respond by denying that any benefits accrue to the Africans we care about most, the poor. Neither side is right.

NBF – There are those who benefit from economic aid to Africa continuing in the same form as the last few decades. There are those who would benefit from altered perceptions of investment possibilites in Africa.

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