Talk:Economy of Africa

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Former featured article Economy of Africa is a former featured article. Please see the links under Article milestones below for its original nomination page (for older articles, check the nomination archive) and why it was removed.
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older entries[edit]

Great, great maps. ✏ Sverdrup 18:54, 13 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Okay, I perhaps should also add some constructive critique: :-)

  • First, the fact box; should we not express the numbers in words (I propose 831,2 millions and 539 thousand million US Dollars for the first two). Also, the statistic "Female economic activity" could use more explanation. Do we have an article we can link this to, so that we know how this is defined?
  • There are large sections named "Causes", "Effects" and "Attempted solutions"; these should perhaps we renamed, it is not immediately clear what they refer to (certainly not what has caused africa to have an economy!)
  • Overall, the article should perhaps not (deliberately vaugely stated) take the stance that Africa is a land in need of help, solutions, new politics, but rather state the facts.

Last, this is a huge topic that is hard to overview and even harder to present in full, with all the different aspects and different regions and situations. You've done a great work to begin to fill Wikipedia's emtpy holes. ✏ Sverdrup 19:12, 13 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Thanks for the comments I agree with most of them and have implemented some of the easy fixes.
  • I do not know much about the "Female economic activity" number. It is a statistic the UN has for every country but I couldn't get much of an explanation for what they consider "economic activity".
  • I'm a history grad so my main focus tends to be on causation, origins, and development and I have thus likely spent too little time describing the current state of affairs. Finding numbers for and descriptions of the current situation is also quite difficult and any additions of such information would be much appreciated. I do however think that the question of "Why is Africa so poor?" is an extremely important one and that this article is the best place to present the various explanations and answers.
  • I do like the maps, but I must say I find Image:African_gdp_growth.png very depressing.
-SimonP 19:37, Oct 13, 2004 (UTC)
I find Image:African_gdp_growth.png takes about a half minute for a colour blind person to understand, I think the dark green needs to me made lighter or the dark red darker. --Joe D 21:27, 13 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Wow.[edit]

All I have to say is WOW. At first, I was kind-of disappointed when I saw that Japanese toilet had finished second to this – but this is truly a phenomenal article. A monumental undertaking. Kudos. BLANKFAZE | (что??) 09:23, 3 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Great Job countering the systemic bias[edit]

Good to see results from this work.

gdp growth image[edit]

I'm not the least bit colorblind, and the multicolored image Image:African gdp growth.png does nothing for me. Why not just put the monochromatic one (this) in the article and be done with it? --Yath 01:35, 13 Nov 2004 (UTC)

I agree. ✏ Sverdrup 02:00, 13 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Featured article?[edit]

How did this get to be a featured article? After effects of colonialism? Africa has gone downhill ever since colonialism ended! They had more ill effects from the cold war than from colonialism. Foriegn powers cannot be blamed for africa's failures, especially not by a supposedly neutral narrative. I need to keep a closer eye on FAC.... Sam [Spade] 11:13, 13 Nov 2004 (UTC)

It's certainly very comprehensive and detailed, but I have to agree with you on that bit. Africa is the only continent that has grown poorer since the end of the European empires, and that's due more to the Cold War and especially despotic and corrupt leadership than anything else. I also cannot believe the article doesn't mention NEPAD, which is the AU's official economic recovery plan for Africa... Impi 13:31, 13 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Hopefully the AU will be as good for Africa as the EU for europe, I agree that this is a theme which ought to be more present. I'd really like it if someone rephrased the sentance in the intro about the ending of colonialism so the dispute header can be removed, I would but I can't find a phrase w proper prose. It is important to note that Colonialism is still ending (if it is indeed ending at all) in some areas, often in violence (seizure of estates, rioting, etc..., the Ivory Coast comes to mind). There is also the complex question of European or american intervention, and if it will lead to a return to/increase of, colonialism. Sam [Spade] 14:47, 13 Nov 2004 (UTC)
I gave it a shot. There's undoubtedly still room for improvement. JRM 14:57, 2004 Nov 13 (UTC)
I tried my hand as well, and removed the dispute header. I think there is room for expansions of ideas relating to these particulars thruout the article. Sam [Spade] 16:57, 13 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Just so I've made a thorough nuisance of myself, I should say that I have some criticisms which are summarised on the main Africa talk page in the sections dealing with the economies. It's well written stylistically but there are important gaps. This time I will make changes in say two weeks time in order to allow for some feedback Sez who 05:44, 14 December 2005 (UTC)

GDP[edit]

I'm adding some GDP numbers from [1], and making it per capita from the 831 million number. - Jerryseinfeld 21:08, 13 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Billion/Thousand Million[edit]

While "billion" in the USA denotes 1,000,000,000, or 10 to the 9th power (1E9), it is often taken as 1E12 in "British" realms. Sverdrup's suggestion of "thousand million" is well taken, but seems ungainly. An alternative and unambiguous convention expresses large quantities as "(millions)" so that 1E9 would be "1", 1E12 would be "1,000" and 10,200,000 would be "10.2". The European use of "." as a marker for thousands and "," as the decimal indicator (the reverse of USA convention) should pose less of a problem for non-USA visitors, so that the convention proposed here should be generally satisfactory. --Myron 09:55, 14 Nov 2004 (UTC)

As far as I am aware, billion is very rarely taken (in English, as least) to mean anything other than 1E9 these days: the British government stopped using the "British" 1E12 meaning some 30 years ago. See billion. -- ALoan (Talk) 12:20, 15 Nov 2004 (UTC)

1 billion --> 13%?[edit]

How can 1 billion be 13% of the world population? The last time I check the world population is about 6.3 billion, 1 billion is closer to 16%.

Also there is some confusion with the use of the world liberal in context of the Washington consensus. While correct in the European usage, it is not correct in the common American usage. I have changed this to "neoliberal" which is correct in both usages in the description of the Washington Consensus.

Edit: On second glance, there is a seeming contradiction in the article. How this became the featured article is beyond me, as the table says 1 billion but the article says 800 million. According to Geohive, the actual population is about 887 million as of 2005, (which is about 14%) so that is what I am going to put in the article.
http://www.geohive.com/global/geo.php?xml=world&xsl=pop_region
A.Rod (8 October 2005, 21:23)

Trends in GDP per capita[edit]

It would be interesting to have some sort of indication of the actual change in sub-saharan gdp per capita over a long time peiod (eg.50 years). I understand that Africa isn't rich, but it would be nice to see the trends more clearly. Can this information be found?


Could anyone please explain why the PPP data for some countries is different from the data from world bank? E.g. Tanzania and Egypt. http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GDP.PCAP.CD — Preceding unsigned comment added by 41.182.17.196 (talk) 20:17, 21 December 2012 (UTC)

Wikipedia:Article Improvement Drive[edit]

Architecture of Africa is currently nominated on Wikipedia:Article Improvement Drive. Come to this page and support it with your vote. Help us improve this article to featured status.--Fenice 08:46, 17 January 2006 (UTC)

Determinants?[edit]

Who said that Africa's poverty should not be the case according to modern economic theory? Someone else has already mentioned corruption, resource dependence (Dutch disease),unequal trading partnerships and theories of foreign direct investment which do explain much of it quite well. In fact given the current international trade setup, the traditional means by which developing economies progress have been eliminated so it is not really possible for African economies to emulate India or China and their poverty is eminently predictable (eg see "What Strategies Are Viable For Developing Countries Today? The World Trade Organisation And The Shrinking Of Development Space by R H Wade. Review of International Political Economy Vol 10 Issue 4 Nov 2003").Doc Meroe 04:04, 20 April 2006 (UTC)

Sorry to raise a controversial point, but given the substantial (though controversial) evidence for a correlation between race and intelligence, and the uncontroverial correlation between intelligence and income, isn't the ethnic makeup of Africa a rather important economic factor? 84.70.132.186 10:50, 27 May 2006 (UTC)

Intelligence[edit]

Re the deletion of the Intelligence section linking to the IQ and the Wealth of Nations article, I have reverted this - whether or not anyone regards this theory as racist, there is an article on Wikipedia about it as well as several related articles. Wikipedia includes articles on all kinds of things that many people don't like; the fact that you don't like a theory is not a reason to delete it. 84.70.132.186 20:10, 15 June 2006 (UTC)

I've again removed the section. That a theory has an article on Wikipedia does not mean that it has any importance or validity. The book in question has generated some controversy, but virtually no one believes it is credible. - SimonP 23:34, 15 June 2006 (UTC)
Virtually no one will publicly admit that they believe it is credible; you'd have to have a particularly low IQ to do so. You'd probably get death threats, get fired, or worse. Should you ever get in trouble with the law for something unrelated to race where the victim just happens to be of a disfavored race, you can be certain that your words will be used to increase the punishment -- never mind the freedom of speech you thought you had. And thus: 72.40.152.209 (talk) 06:55, 25 October 2009 (UTC)
There are many academics who believe race and intelligence are linked, and certainly thousands who think that intelligence and wealth are linked (which is hardly surprising). There may be controversy about whether the former link exists, but there is no controversy that a significant number of academics who are expert in the field believe that it does. See for example Race and intelligence, or the hundreds of books and papers listed in Race and intelligence (References), many of which support this. So I have again reverted this. I hope this doesn't turn into a revert war, but there's no doubt in my mind that a mention of this (including that it is controversial) and links to the relevant articles are 100% valid and appropriate for a Wikipedia article. 84.70.132.186 10:31, 16 June 2006 (UTC)
I've also now qualified it to point out that a link between race and intelligence is not required for there to be a link between intelligence and wealth. For example, it is uncontroversial that iodine deficiency (prevalent in Africa) significantly affects IQ, and it is uncontroversial that lower IQ reduces wealth. So even if national variation in IQ has a purely environmental explanation, it is nonetheless likely to affect national wealth. 84.70.132.186 11:17, 16 June 2006 (UTC)
The issue is not just that it is a dubious, though it is, the main issue is that this just isn't a very notable theory and it has been all but ignored by pretty much all mainstream scholars. Mentioning the IQ studies in this article, would be like mentioning zero-point energy devices in our quantum physics article. - SimonP 12:38, 16 June 2006 (UTC)
Any "mainstream scholar" knows that publicly touching this issue is a career-ending move. They quietly think "well, duh, that's obvious" and "gee that author has balls". 72.40.152.209 (talk) 06:55, 25 October 2009 (UTC)

I have deleted the intelligence section and I'm amazed that someone actually put something like that in an article that's supposed to be about Africa's economy. To seriously suggest that Africa is poor because its inhabitants are unintelligent is to build an argument on a widely discredited foundation. Doc Meroe 01:21, 23 June 2006 (UTC)

It's "discredited" by humans with bias, not by cold robotic logic. We humans seek grant funding, tenure, political office, employability despite the existance of Google, and so on. If we could have a disinterested 3rd party, perhaps little green men in flying saucers, you know (but can't admit) exactly what conclusion would be reached. 72.40.152.209 (talk) 06:55, 25 October 2009 (UTC)
A large portion of this article isn't directly about Africa's economy, anyway. Much of the article is spent on mere conjecture ("Determinants"). The intelligence issue has just as much of a place in it as do the many other unproven possible determinants. Peoplesunionpro 03:30, 17 August 2006 (UTC)

Debt Relief[edit]

This section initially states that "Each year Africa sends more money to western bankers in interest on its debts than it receives in foreign aid from these countries" but later it states "external debt payments flowing out of the continent are of about the same size as the external foreign aid flowing in to the continent". As such I have removed the latter statement as an examination of the World Bank website shows that it is incorrect. Doc Meroe 00:14, 26 June 2006 (UTC)

2002/2003[edit]

The side panels states both:

  • "During 2003 unless otherwise stated"; and
  • "Numbers are mostly from 2002."

Someone might want to look into that. —Pengo talk · contribs 22:51, 16 September 2006 (UTC)

References[edit]

With only a handful of references, how this got to be a featured article is beyond me. Presumably standards were lower back in 2004. Ben Finn 22:11, 5 March 2007 (UTC)

I enjoyed reading this section, which appears to be a dispute between two opposing points of view! Ben Finn 22:16, 5 March 2007 (UTC)

The majority of the world's population and wealth is found in the temperate zone. Historically the vast expanse of Eurasia, almost entirely in the temperate zone (except for the vast tracts that are dry and hot such as the Arabian Peninsula; cold tundra such as in North Asia, and tropical such as subcontinental India, Bangladesh, Thailand, Laos, Bhutan, Burma, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Singapore) was linked by land routes, allowing technologies and ideas to spread from one area over time, aiding innovation. The agricultural techniques and medicines designed to work in the northern climes may fail in the tropics. This theory could partly explain why temperate South Africa is by far the wealthiest part of Africa, even though South Africa is in fact not temperate, and why other tropical areas in South America and Indonesia share Africa's poverty, though tropical Singapore and Brunei do not. There are no tropical countries in the OECD, apart from Mexico and Australia which have significant tropical sections, and only a handful have a GDP per capita above the world average, again apart from Singapore Brunei, Malaysia and Thailand.

States[edit]

Also I think that it is utterably wrong to refer to African COUNTRIES as states, yes we have all been conditioned to think that Africa is just a country but it is a continent and should be treated as such, especially in writing. --Christina Blacken

A state is a synonym for country, and the term is widely used in a different way than what it means in the US. --Ezeu 02:02, 13 March 2007 (UTC)
Absolutely Ezeu. Users like Christina in federations such as the US and Australia need to adapt to usage of the term 'state' outside their countries, for example in the name of organizations like the 'Economic Community of West African States'. And in my experience it is only in the US and Australia that people form the mistaken impression of Africa as a single country, in the UK, France etc people are much more widely aware of the existence of different national states in Africa. Rexparry sydney 00:47, 26 July 2007 (UTC)

Trade routes between South Africa and other parts of Africa[edit]

I deleted 'Wealthy parts of South Africa are blocked from the rest of Africa by the Kalahari Desert'. This is quite untrue, it's a statement made from ignorance of geography and history. As Cecil Rhodes proved, there are no great geographical barriers to travel and transport between South Africa and regions as far north as Lake Tanganyika, only the Limpopo and Zambezi require big bridges, malaria and the tsetse fly are also problems which can be overcome. There are historical and cultural links between tribes in South Africa and those in Zambia and Malawi indicating migrations were common before European colonisation. Crossing the Limpopo by ox-wagon and horse presented no great problems to Cecil Rhodes and his colonisers from the wealthy heartland of South Africa, and his railway builders were often able to lay several miles of track in a day in completing the line all the way up to Katanga by 1909. The development of the Zambian and Katangan Copperbelts between 1909 and the 1950 demonstrates that the opposite statement is true: "wealthy parts of South Africa were easily able to trade with Central Africa". The more interesting question is why South African trade did not continue from the Copperbelt up Lake Tanganyika or across the Tanganyika Territory to Kenya/Uganda after WWI. To an extent some trade did go by sea between the South African ports and Dar/Zanzibar/Mombasa: British and South African shipping companies had regular services stopping at the East African ports. The real reason that trade between South Africa and East Africa is not great today is that South African investers were nervous of uhuru, and then apartheid led to severing of links. Apartheid set back development of trade by four decades and I think the economies of Zambia, Uganda, Kenya would be much stronger today if not for that, at the expense of submitting to greater South African economic hegemony (which is now coming to them later rather than sooner). Rexparry sydney 02:15, 26 July 2007 (UTC)

Foreign aid[edit]

This section talks about the benefits of foregin aid. I'm thinking of adding some text about the drawbacks as well. For instance, the famine in Ethiopia during 1984 - 1985, perceived by many as a natural disaster, is infact largely attributed to a civil war backed by United States and the Soviet Union - money given to groups in the name of aid. This is just one example. It is not uncommon to see conflicts in Africa which are being driven by foreign countries. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Observer8 (talkcontribs) 23:22, 10 October 2007 (UTC)


GDP figures[edit]

I find it highly questionable that the continent wide GDP could increase by about 66% in 3 years. (1.6 trillion to 2.5 trillion (PPP)). What are the source for this? I think this requires a factual accuracy tag. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 209.125.57.70 (talk) 04:18, 13 October 2007 (UTC)

São Tomé & Príncipe - former no. 1 cocoa producer?[edit]

It has been suggested to me (IFAD personal communication) that São Tomé and Príncipe (STP) was once the world's largest cocoa producer—1930s, maybe around 30,000 tonnes/year. Can anyone confirm this or advise a reference to global or STP historical cocoa production? Many thanks—GRM (talk) 09:26, 30 May 2008 (UTC)

hello —Preceding unsigned comment added by 74.137.174.182 (talk) 23:45, 16 February 2009 (UTC)

Genetics[edit]

Re this new section which someone just mass-deleted, the book in question has about 75,000 references on Google, has been discussed by e.g. the New York Times and The Economist, and is written by two reasonably eminent anthropology professors, so it is not obscure at least. 93.96.236.8 (talk) 21:24, 17 January 2010 (UTC)

These matters have been discussed in the past, see the Intelligence section just above this. That these views have generated controversy, does not mean they have any sort of acceptance. No mainstream source gives these types of theory any credibility. A better search than a general Google one is Google Scholar. That search produces exactly one hit for the book title. - SimonP (talk) 22:11, 17 January 2010 (UTC)
"so it is not obscure at least" Then please provide independent, reliable sources. Otherwise this looks like a minimum, undue weight to a single, fringe viewpoint. --Ronz (talk) 17:01, 18 January 2010 (UTC)
To the extent that this is the same topic as the earlier discussion on intelligence, views on the genetic relationship between race and intelligence are well in the mainstream among intelligence researchers - though certainly disputed, they are certainly not fringe. There's loads of material already on Wikipedia about this. Re the book in question being obscure, you can check Google yourself, but here's a few independent reliable sources discussing it:
Wall Street Journal
The Economist
Los Angeles Times
Seed magazine
93.96.236.8 (talk) 17:16, 18 January 2010 (UTC)
Thanks. Seems like the viewpoint is worth some mention. Of course, it must be presented in context with the scientific consensus as well... --Ronz (talk) 17:39, 18 January 2010 (UTC)
I've looked through the book, and nowhere in it can I find the authors arguing that African poverty is a result of a lack of "cognitive adaptations which favour (for example) trade, long-term planning, and state-formation." Can you give a page reference for where in the book the authors state that such things? None of the sources you've listed make reference to any such thing either. - SimonP (talk) 14:56, 20 January 2010 (UTC)
That word "acceptance" is an interesting choice. No mainstream source is going to publish something that at minimum will piss off the readers/viewers/listeners and cause the advertizers to flee in panic. With a bit of bad luck they'd get death threats, protest marches, arson, and worse. Given such a level of hostility, it isn't a legitimate argument to suggest that a lack of mainstream sources would be at all meaningful. Since there are in fact a few brave and foolhardy sources despite the hostility, it is quite reasonable to give extra weight to those sources. 72.40.152.209 (talk) 08:40, 12 February 2010 (UTC)

History sections[edit]

I expanded the sections on the history of Africa's economy, only to find out afterwards that there is an existing Economic history of Africa article (although it could well be expanded). I've decided that I should chop the pre-2000 history sections from this article to keep it focused on current economic conditions, and will move and merge the content with the Econ Hist of Africa article. Any objections? OttawaAC (talk) 01:26, 2 March 2013 (UTC)

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