At the beginning of the twenty-first century, more than 1.1 billion people the world over are living in "extreme" poverty. This is a category created by social scientists indicating that people at this dire level of need are subsisting on less than US$1 a day. In a recent report from the United Nations Development Programme, Nigeria is ranked 171st on its index of national development, with more than 70 percent of the population living in extreme poverty.
Poverty is not simply about the lack of money. It also means that people do not know where their next meal will come from. They cannot afford decent living conditions. Their incomes are unpredictable and low. Those suffering in extreme poverty lack access to the good things of life and life's fulfillment and expectations are greatly threatened. This undermining of human dignity makes the amelioration of poverty a moral as well as an economic issue. Poverty remains without question the greatest challenge facing African countries.
Many people, in and out of Africa, are quick to blame colonization for the present predicament. But Africa is not unique in this regard. Many countries that were once colonized are today enjoying economic prosperity. For instance, Australia and New Zealand were both British colonies. Estonia was once under Russian and German control. Today citizens of these countries are enjoying a substantial per capita income. Colonialism ended in Africa more than three decades ago. It is time to look inward, for African solutions, to find ways to ameliorate the suffering of impoverished people in the continent. In many cases, those solutions will be found in morally responsible activity in the market and in government.
Read the entire article on the Acton Institute website.