Savable Africa

The G-8 Summit in Scotland in early July will bring together the political leaders of the richest countries to consider the plight of the poorest countries. So far, President George W. Bush has resisted Prime Minister Tony Blair’s call for a doubling of aid to Africa by 2010. This is a tragic mistake, one that results from a misunderstanding of the challenges facing Africa and of America’s responsibilities.

American policy is based overwhelmingly on the idea that Africa can lift itself out of extreme poverty through its own efforts, that aid is largely misused because of corruption, and that the United States already gives generous amounts. This is wrong on all counts: Africa is trapped in poverty, many countries are well poised to use aid effectively, and America’s contribution is tiny relative to Africa’s needs, America’s promises, and America’s wealth.

Africa suffers simultaneously from three challenges that trap it in poverty. First, Africa does not grow enough food. Unlike Asia, Africa did not have a Green Revolution in food production. In 1965, India averaged 854 kilograms of grain per hectare in use, while Sub-Saharan Africa averaged almost the same, 773 kilograms per hectare. But, by 2000, India was producing 2,293 kilograms per hectare, while Africa was producing only 1,118.

To continue reading, please log in or enter your email address.

To continue reading, please log in or register now. After entering your email, you'll have access to two free articles every month. For unlimited access to Project Syndicate, subscribe now.

required

By proceeding, you are agreeing to our Terms and Conditions.

Log in

http://prosyn.org/9wmfCXC;

Cookies and Privacy

We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. To find out more, read our updated cookie policy and privacy policy.