Despite Challenges, Things in Africa Are Looking Up

Recent headlines on the tragic violence in the Central African Republic and South Sudan and continued fighting in Mali revive for some the stereotypical view that Sub Saharan Africa will always be a waste of development dollars, a place that will never change.

The atrocities occurring in these three countries are horrific, but they are far from representative of Sub Saharan Africa as a whole and will not alter the broad, positive change that is sweeping the continent.

It’s important to keep in mind that Sub Saharan Africa is a very big diverse place. It encompasses 48 countries, hundreds of cultures, and has a land mass the size of the United States, China and India put together, with some left over. Overall, it is a region on the rise.

Take economic growth, for instance. During the first decade of the 21st century, Africa’s economic growth was greater than that of East Asia, including Japan. According to the World Bank and the IMF, economic growth in Sub Saharan Africa was about 5 percent in 2013 and is expected to rise to 5.3 percent in 2014. One-third of the countries in Sub Saharan Africa have growth rates of more than 6 percent. This success is due in part to investment by the private sector, and private investment in Sub Saharan Africa is growing.

Conditions are improving for the people of Sub Saharan Africa. In its recent Annual Letter, the Bill and Malinda Gates Foundation noted that the life-expectancy of women over the last 50 years has risen from 41 to 57 years, despite AIDS. Today, more than 75 percent of school-age children attend school. Just over 40 percent did in 1970.

Certainly many challenges remain. Almost one in every two Africans lives on less than $1.25 a day. Economic growth has not translated into reduced poverty across the board; inequality remains a problem. Changing weather patterns are negatively affecting food production. Tourism is threatened by a rise in transnational organized wildlife crime. Corruption burdens many governments and will continue to impede progress.

But make no mistake: for Africans, change is in the air. More girls are enrolled in school than ever before. Fewer babies are born HIV positive. More doctors and nurses are being trained. More small businesses are starting and succeeding. The list goes on.

The challenges of the Central African Republic, South Sudan and Mali should not overshadow the successes of the rest of the region.

Aid for Africa is an alliance of 85 U.S.-based nonprofits and their African partners who help children, families, and communities throughout Sub-Saharan Africa. Aid for Africas grassroots programs focus on health, education, economic development, arts & culture, conservation, and wildlife protection in Africa.

Photo: Aid for Africa


David Nuttle
David Nuttle3 years ago

The counterdesertification technologies, first developed and proven in the Thar Desert of NW India, will be of great benefit to arid/ desert areas of Africa. My charity, NPI. has further advanced these technologies and we are planning a demonstration project in a Kenyan desert using water from Lake Turkana. See NPI's website

Luis Brantuas
Luís Brântuas3 years ago

Thanks for sharing!

David W.
David W3 years ago

Interesting. Thanks.

Lynn C.
Lynn C3 years ago


Vicky P.
Vicky P3 years ago

good to know :)

Danuta Watola
Danuta W3 years ago

thanks for the article

j A3 years ago

Important context facts to keep in mind about this continent

Sue H.
Sue H3 years ago

Wouldn't it be nice if other countries would Stop exploiting Africa??

Angela Ray
Angela Ray3 years ago

It's intended to keep Africa "behind" so they can continue to exploit it as well as the natives of that region!

Olivia D.
Olivia Dawson3 years ago

If you enjoyed this story I hope you'll sign my petition asking for more like it.

Thanks :)