top of page

10 Reasons Why Poor African Countries Stay Poor

It is no longer news that when you think poverty in the world, you think Africa. Not too long ago, a photo of a famine-stricken Sudanese child waiting to be feasted upon by a vulture which was taken in 1993 by Kevin Carter, resurfaced on the internet. This was during the horrendous drought and ensuing famine that was wrecking Sudan at the time. Today, the story isn’t any different. More children have actually died from hunger, and there wasn’t just a CARTER to tell the world. What could be the cause of this abject poverty? To eradicate poverty, we need to start from the root causes of the issue; only then can we break the chains and bring lasting change.

hungry child crying

This brings us to 10 reasons why African Countries remain poor till date.

1. Poor education

The poor educational systems in Africa have contributed greatly to the rise in poverty in that even people who are supposedly educated have almost nothing to offer in terms of know-how. In most African countries, education is highly theoretically; there is little or no practical knowledge being learned. It is more about what you know than what you can do.

students - African university

The curriculum is made unnecessarily complex without any real value delivered. Lecturers teach theory and they feel important when students fail their courses. To them it’s an indication of how good they are. Nothing could be further from the truth. Rather, if majority of students are failing your course, then the problem is with you. Worse still, the syllabi in most of the high institutions are outdated. We spend time learning about things that really don’t matter. This explains why countless university graduates still roam the streets searching for white-collar jobs while waiting on the government to integrate them into the civil service; and they do so for years.

If you really desire to succeed, you can’t rely on formal Education only. You have to learn practical skills that are relevant for your career. You can get such knowledge by reading books, taking courses, attending trainings, conferences, seminars and much more. If you need help getting started, you can join our growing community of youths. It is an environment where you’ll get to learn something new every single day. And it’s FREE for all! What are you waiting for? Invest in your future by JOINING US today.

Students studying together

2. Corruption

The rate of corruption in Africa is alarming. In a country like Cameroon, many government officials are rotting in jail for pleading guilty to corruption charges when their term in office came to an end. It is almost like a way of life that a qualified citizen won’t get a job in a prominent position if they can’t “see some people at the back”. Corruptions has become almost like second nature in Cameroon. It’s really sad when the wrong thing is the norm. Those who have the money always get their way, while those who only count on their know-how often go home disappointed. The gap between the rich and the poor keeps widening. The rate of poverty keeps increasing. Whenever there are development projects such as road constructions, the budget is undercut as it is handed down from level to the next till it finally reaches the contractors. By then a significant portion has disappeared and the result is a low quality job done. Each person cuts his own piece of the pie and we keep fooling ourselves that the project is being executed fairly. In such a corrupt system, everyone wants to take advantage of the next person. You can’t get anything done without giving someone a little something on the side. Unless this corrupt mindset is gotten rid of, poverty will remain an issue.

3. Self-centeredness of African leaders

In 1979, Nigerian afrobeat Maestro — Fela Kuti in his live performance at the Berlin Jazz Festival referred to African leaders as VIPs (Vagabonds in Power) who aren't concerned about the hungry masses, the jobless citizens, the homeless and suffering people but only keep amassing wealth for themselves and living the most luxurious lives. Just as expected, this song was banned by the Nigerian Broadcasting corporation. What Fela sang in 1979 was true then and is still true today. This is evident in the fact that Africa has the longest serving presidents in the likes of Teodoro Obiang Nguema of Equatorial Guinea, Paul Biya of Cameroon and Yoweri Museveni of Uganda just to name a few.

child crying

There are protests from the suffering masses who keep wallowing in poverty as they watch the leaders lead lives of influence and affluence. These leaders are dictators hidden behind the fake democracy. Most of them have modified the constitution to give them lifelong power. Doing the same things over and over and expecting a different result is insanity. There is a reason why Presidents in countries such as France or the USA have limited terms. Change is necessary for progress. The only thing constant in life is change. If a poor leader emerges, at least the person will be replaced. There needs to be a change in leadership for the situation to change.

4. Religion

Religion is supposed to be a catalyst for positive change in Africa. However, it is rather ironic that its practice is arguably doing more harm than good to the African continent. The most religious countries are also the poorest countries. According to surveys done by Gallup, the countries with the highest proportion of adults(over 84%) who indicated the importance of religion also happened to be the poorest countries. The media is often flooded with controversial topics on African religious leaders. Some religious leaders have taken religion as a business to enrich themselves. Their brainwashed followers fund their luxury lifestyles, thereby making these leaders richer while their followers become poorer. This is common with Christianity in Africa influenced by these poor leaders. It is only in Africa that someone will wake up on a Monday morning with no food to eat and go to church to pray for divine provision instead of going out to hunt for food. Religion, however, still has the potential to influence socio-economic and political processes positively. Such positive influence would ameliorate corruption and poverty, thereby assisting in the socio-economic transformation of the African continent. It is worth noting that true Christianity is different from Religion. There are excellent Christian leaders out there who are creating a positive impact and blessing countless lives. These are the leaders that aspiring Christians should follow.

holding hands in prayer

5. Exploitation of Africa’s natural resources by Europe and the West

Africa is home to the treasures that kings and queens desire. Diamond and gold are commonly found in people’s backyards. Sadly, Africans have been unable to safeguard these treasures. The western and European countries repeatedly outsmart Africans to get hold of these treasures at little or no cost.

In Cameroon for example, timber is being exported daily, yet the roads leading to these timber-rich forests are in a deplorable state.

truck exporting timber

What more of the people living in the area? They are being used as agents of exploitation for such a laughable compensation. They long to survive, so they do not have a choice. It’s not just timber; other resources including cocoa, coffee, rubber, aluminum, crude oil and much more are also frequently exported. These resources are transformed into finished products and sold back to Africans at a much higher cost. This happens because these countries lack the necessary infrastructure to convert these raw materials. The easy way out is to depend on the industrialized nations at their own cost. African countries need to invest in their own facilities to manufacture the products they need.

6. Neocolonialism

In theory, most African countries are independent but in practice, they are very much controlled by colonial powers. Most African leaders are just puppets in the hands of the colonial masters. Cameroon for example, supposedly got its independence in 1961 but the hand of France - one of its colonial masters is very much visible in the country. This is masked by the “good relationship” between Cameroon and France. These colonial powers still influence the puppet leaders to make economic and political decisions in their favor; these leaders accept because of the short-term rewards promised. The power mongers sacrifice the well-being of the people they are supposed to lead just to fill their pockets. Hence, the stagnation and decrease in the standard of living of Africans. A country is as good as it’s leaders. African countries need leaders who will put the country first.

7. Poor governance

Africa is well known for bad governance. This is caused by the fact that those in power regard their positions as their personal property rather than an opportunity to respond to the needs of the people. They care more about their well-being than that of the country as a whole. Government officials are appointed to prominent positions by everything else but merit, while the competent people keep struggling and living from hand to mouth. In such a system where everyone is seeking their personal gain, there really can’t be reasonable progress. The top political leaders set a poor example for other government officials and the result is bad leadership from top to bottom. The solution here like the previous point is new leadership. Africa needs leaders who are willing to serve their nations.

8. War and crisis

Sociopolitical Wars are becoming the order of the day in Africa. In 2020, SIPRI reported at least 15 countries with active armed conflicts in Africa. Some were high-intensity armed conflicts like that of Nigeria, DRC, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Somalia, Mali, and South Sudan. In 2021, many of these armed conflicts such as that of Cameroon are far from coming to an end. It only gets worse and the number of internally displaced people as well as refugees in the country keeps increasing. As a result, the nation’s infrastructures are being destroyed, people lose their homes and jobs, and students are unable to go to school as before. Several innocent lives have been lost which only makes matters worse. How much longer will they last? What will it take to stop these crises? One thing for sure is that the end of a crisis is good for the economy.

9. Unjust trade structures

African products like natural resources are sold in the international markets in which they have no control over. The western countries get to set and regulate prices and, as such, would certainly do anything not to be on the losing end. According to Eurostat, in 2020, close to 70% of goods exported from the EU to Africa were manufactured goods. In the same year, over 60% of goods imported to the EU from Africa were primary products; that is raw materials, energy, food and drink. These numbers clearly indicate that the raw materials are exported from Africa to the EU where they are converted into finished products that are them exported back from the EU to Africa. These products are sold for a profit by the EU as they get to choose at what price they will be sold. The EU is making money off of African resources. The only way out of this is for African countries to manufacture their own products or at least a huge percentage of them.

coffee beans

10. Increase in population

As of 2021, the population of Africa stands at about 1.37 billion and is expected to be at 2.4 billion in. 2050 according to world population review. This rapid growth in population is as a result of ignorance about family planning among those who are already having a low standard of living. In most cases, it’s the poor people who give birth to the highest number of children there by increasing the number of mouths to be fed when there’s nothing on the table. These children hardly acquire any education that can guarantee them a brighter future. Hence, poverty keeps spreading from one generation to another. Before birthing children, you should be able to provide for them. Sadly, most poor people since they have nothing doing, spend their time procreating. The irony is that poorer families are larger than richer families. Rich people know that a child is not an asset but a liability; meaning that child needs to be taken care of. That’s why rich people have fewer kids that they provide for in abundance. Africans need to be sensitized on the importance of family planning and birth-control.

pregnant woman with partner

The above issues show that more money alone will not solve poverty in Africa. Africa is very rich in natural resources, but these resources are being abused. For Africa to emerge, there must be a change in the mindset of individuals towards development. African leaders must serve the needs of their citizens and the country at large.

A country is like a team and a team is only good as the individuals that make up the team. Which means that as a citizen you have a part to play in the future of your country. You shouldn’t just sit and expect the authorities or others to make a difference. We hope you’ve been inspired by this piece to bring a change. The change starts with you; it starts by changing the way you think. What are you doing at your own level to make a difference? If you are doing something, keep doing that. If not, then it’s time to do something. If everyone adopts this mentality, then poverty in Africa will be old news very soon…

91 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page