Why is Africa Poor?

Cato Institute Center for Global Liberty & Prosperity, Development Briefing Paper No. 6

8 Pages Posted: 15 Nov 2011 Last revised: 17 Dec 2014

See all articles by Greg Mills

Greg Mills

The Brenthurst Foundation

Date Written: December 6, 2010


Sub-Saharan African countries have not fulfilled their potential since independence. While other developing countries and regions have grown over the past 50 years, much of Africa has stagnated. African leaders have become adept at externalizing blame, holding others responsible for Africa's failings. Yet African leaders — not a lack of capital, access to world markets, or technical expertise — are to blame for the continent's underdevelopment.

As Asian countries have shown, African countries must liberalize their economies to grow. Africa must embrace globalization and trade with the rest of the world. African countries must also make their business environment much friendlier to domestic and foreign investors. The political elite, which benefits from the status quo, is the main obstacle to reform. The spread of democracy on the continent — haphazard though it is — will make African governments more responsive to the needs of the populace, but Western governments must also help — by ending or reducing foreign aid to African regimes. That move could help establish a better link between governments and citizens and reduce disincentives to necessary reforms.

Keywords: Sub-Saharan Africa, economic development, political economy, globalization, foreign direct investment, foreign aid, international development

JEL Classification: F50, I30, N17

Suggested Citation

Mills, Greg, Why is Africa Poor? (December 6, 2010). Cato Institute Center for Global Liberty & Prosperity, Development Briefing Paper No. 6, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1959445

Greg Mills (Contact Author)

The Brenthurst Foundation ( email )

P.O. Box 61631
Marshalltown, 2107
South Africa

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics