Sub-Saharan Africa’s Leadership to Nowhere

Why are the countries of sub-Saharan Africa the poorest in the world? One reason is the set of ill-designed development strategies that the IMF and the World Bank have implemented in the region for nearly half a century. But the centuries-old culture of leadership that is ingrained in many African societies has played an equally disastrous role.

Indeed, the overwhelming majority of African rulers regard their countries as their personal possessions, to be used as they see fit. This conception of power led in past centuries to kings handing over their subjects to slave traders. Nowadays, leaders squander their countries’ resources and revenues, leaving the majority of their populations mired in poverty, disease, hunger, war, and hopelessness.

The current oil rush in West Africa is a perfect illustration of the problem. Instead of being an asset, oil has become a liability that generates poverty, corruption, ethnic conflict, and ecological disaster.

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