chapter  2
20 Pages

The African tragedy: International and national roots


The course of sub-Saharan Africa’s development over the last 50 years has been frequently referred to as the ‘African tragedy’ (Leys, 1994, Easterly and Levine, 1997, Artadi and Sala-i-Martin, 2003). The tragedy of the last 50 years has been played out through war (among many examples, Biafra, Rwanda, Darfur, Angola, Congo/Zaire), disintegration of economies and states (most notably in Somalia and now Zimbabwe), and perhaps most depressingly given the advances in medical science elsewhere in the world, disease. In sub-Saharan Africa in 2007,1 1.6 million people died from AIDS, 76 per cent of the world total, and 61 per cent of them women. Malaria kills almost 1 million people a year, while TB, often a side effect of AIDS, kills hundreds of thousands. And if that were not bad enough, road deaths kill 200,000 people in Africa each year. When some parts of the continent suffer drought, as in Somalia in 2008, others suffer floods, as in Southern Africa in the same year. The consequence of all these factors taken together is food shortage causing malnutrition, hunger and death and seriously negative effects on output and on the quality of the labour force, with consequent effects on productivity, costs and competitiveness.