(Migrant captured at gunpoint by Libyan slave traders, 2017)
Africa is a continent that has suffered – since the beginning of slavery, through colonialism and imperialism; since the destruction of its lands, the mistreatment of its people, and now left in a state of extreme poverty, no access to fresh water and limited opportunities for survival and developing of one’s livelihoods, Sub-Saharan Africa today accounts for almost three-quarters of the Least Developed Countries (LDC’s) globally (Oxfam, 2001: 7).
Development assistance in LDC’s has fallen by approximately 30% since 1990 (Oxfam, 2001: 15) and Africa’s “marginalisation in world trade” (Oxfam, 2001: 11) has led to Africa being unable to prosper. Inequality between people, and inequality amongst states, have created a breeding ground for criminal activity to strengthen and progress. Extreme poverty which affects around 48% of African people’s lives (The Borgen Project, 2015), provides little or no hope to the people living there. More than 20% of children die before the age of 5 in countries such as Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia (Oxfam, 2001: 7) with many familiies’ only hope is that of migrating to a better land where they may be able to improve their lives, in favour of being sucked into the vast and dangerous criminal circuit that is prevalent across the African continent. Not only an issue of humanity, but issues of poverty and issues of immense inequality, Africa has become the world’s forgotten land.
“The existence of glaring disparities between rich and poor nations will continue to fuel a trade in people-smuggling and illegal migration” (O’brien and Williams, 2016: 312). Today, this is evidenced across Libya, where Libyan’s are profiting from the hopes and dreams of the 150,000 sub-Saharan Africans looking to migrate into Italy each year (Aljazeera.com, 2017), exploiting their desperation and selling the men and women, as slaves to the highest bidder. But in this continent where Africans have been pitted against each other for centuries, can we be surprised at those maximising off of the weaknesses of others, knowing that they too probably have limited options themselves too to live? The migration crisis that is often the only choice for some Africans has natural costs that detriment the entire global economy, with the cost of migration for the European Union in 2016 alone was estimated to be £20billion (Little, 2016), not inclusive of 2017 in wake of the further Libyan migration crisis, however, these financial costs are relatively nothing in comparison to the cost of loss and suffering of human lives.
Africa’s inability to recover from history that has led to monumental issues of poverty, and inequality, have been amplified in world wide affairs. “Trade policies in industrialised countries are carefully designed to prevent LDCs from taking advantage of export opportunities” (Oxfam, 2001: 9), therefore, being unable to trade and build upon their GDPs is restricting Africa’s chances of progression. Furthermore, the debt system has placed many African nations in such a cycle that up to 20% of their funds, including through aid, are being spent on debt servicing and repayments, (Oxfam, 2001: 16) because they are simply not creating enough disposable revenue. Debt programmes through the IMF and World Bank have jeopardised the already fragile nature of African economies, meaning that they are stuck in a state of extreme poverty.
Additionally, in an article titled “Africa is not poor, we are stealing its wealth”, the author argues that the rest of the world is actually further preventing Africa from development and growth, and that “sub-Saharan Africa is a net creditor to the rest of the world to the tune of more than $41bn”, with $213bn leaving the continent, ‘stolen’ by multinational corporations along with ‘illicit financial flows’ (Dearden, 2017). Considering Africa’s numerous political and economic issues, those involved need “to stop perpetuating the harm they are doing” (Dearden, 2017), in order for Africa to capitalise on the maximum amount of opportunities possible to develop the continent and as a result, their people’s lives. For now, however, it appears that the world wants Africa to suffer. Underdevelopment of the country and its people, is meaning that inequality is worsening, due to a system of elitism and corruption that does nothing to benefit the poor. Despite forms of aid, “poverty has not declined in the LDCs in sub-Saharan Africa and the incidence of poverty has risen to more than 60% in countries such as Zambia, Mali and Niger” (Oxfam, 2001: 7).
Only 5 countries have met the 0.2% of GNP promised to be dedicated towards aid for LDCs at the UNLDC 11 Programme of Action (Oxfam, 2001: 15). This shows that it has become less of a concern to help a land that some argue is irreparable. However, duty free and quota free access for exports could help these nations build a bigger trade network that, if distributed appropriately, could build upon their economies and aid in self-assistance to such global economical threats such as extreme poverty and inequality, and bring about a change that includes prosperity and longevity for its inhabitants.
Leila Lerari – M00559185
Aljazeera.com. (2017). IOM: African migrants traded in Libya’s ‘slave markets’. [online] Available at: http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/04/iom-african-migrants-traded-libya-slave-markets-170411141809641.html [Accessed Dec. 2017].
Dearden, N. (2017). Africa is not poor, we are stealing its wealth. [online] Aljazeera.com. Available at: https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2017/05/africa-poor-stealing-wealth-170524063731884.html [Accessed 18 Apr. 2018].
Little, A. (2016). Migrant crisis will cost £20bn: Experts reveal shock price the EU has to pay. [online] Express.co.uk. Available at: https://www.express.co.uk/news/world/678878/migrant-crisis-cost-20bn-experts-reveal-shock-price-EU-pay [Accessed Dec. 2017].
Migrant captured at gunpoint by Libyan slave traders. (2017). [image] Available at: http://inquizimedia.com/2017/11/30/libya-slave-trade-beyond-hashtags-avatars/ [Accessed Dec. 2017].
O’Brien, R. and Williams, M. (2016). Global political economy. 5th ed. Palgrave Macmillan.
Oxfam, 2001. ‘Rigged Trade and Not Much Aid: How Rich Countries Help to Keep the Least Developed Countries Poor’ Oxfam International. May 2001. Available at: https://www.scribd.com/document/340746020/Rigged-Trade-and-Not-Much-Aid-How-rich-countries-help-to-keep-the-least-developed-countries-poor [Accessed 10th April 2018]
The Borgen Project. (2015). 10 Shocking Facts about Poverty in Africa | The Borgen Project. [online] Available at: https://borgenproject.org/10-quick-facts-about-poverty-in-africa/ [Accessed 13 Apr. 2018].