Poverty in Africa

There is no doubt that poverty accounts for the bulk of negative conflicts and crimes in most parts of Africa. It is no coincidence that you see many middle class kids joining gangs, rebels or militants or terrorist group, rigging elections, selling drugs or robbing people.

The World Bank defines extreme poverty as living on less than US$1.25 per day , and moderate poverty as less than $2 a day. It has been estimated that in 2008, 1.4 billion people had consumption levels below US$1.25 a day of 2.7 billion living on less than $2 a day. This situation basically applies to developing continents to which Africa is classed. In fact, 925 million people do not have enough to eat and 98 percent of them live in developing countries. Under-nutrition contributes to five million deaths of children under the age of five each year in these developing countries.

Apart from the massive deaths resulting from poverty in Africa, the very big issue is hinged on the numbers of conflicts it creates. A very good number of past conflicts in Africa are hinged on political power and this is based on the typically African thinking that people in power must become rich. People want to control the resources of their country. The past wars in Congo, Darfur, Nigeria and Liberia have its roots in questions of power and resources. People want change of life, they want to live well with a good car, house etc. and they see the government as a way of achieving that goal and consequently they desperately get into some sort of conflicts.


  • Death
  • Child trafficking
  • Drug trafficking
  • Prostitution
  • Armed robbery
  • Insecurity
  • Rigging of elections
  • Rebellion, terrorism or militancy
  • Lack of basic necessities of life
  • Child labour
  • Transmission of diseases
  • Corruption
  • Conflicts


  • Unemployment
  • Bad leadership/Poor governance
  • Corruption
  • Poverty is also resulting from
  • Reliance on foreign culture and products
  • Poor economy
  • Illiteracy

The prevalent nature of armed conflicts in Africa is greatly connected to its degree of poverty and African leaders have failed to scrutinize and address this problem properly. Of course those that are usually used by government or political forces to perpetuate violence in Africa are usually from very poor background. The gains toward reducing absolute poverty over the past decade have been reversed in recent years. People living below the poverty line in sub-Saharan Africa rose to 52.5 percent in 2008 and these whole issues accounts for the rise in armed conflicts and insecurity in Africa as a whole.


From the above mentioned it is clear that there is a relationship between armed conflicts and poverty in Africa and the world. A very hungry man is vulnerable to invitation by criminal groups when money or food is offered. In fact poverty has been blamed of fuelling terrorism by creating a state of misery and frustration that pushes people to join terrorist organizations.

The very first step in eliminating poverty and tactically reducing armed conflicts in Africa is good governance and leadership. This is key to addressing the problem of poverty in Africa. A government that will critically tackle the issue of unemployment, welfare, social infrastructure and corruption will hit the key issues in resolving conflicts in Africa. The truth is that most of the people have been used by the influential untouchables to carry out criminal acts, are jobless or are into a job that cannot buy them daily meal. Europe is where they heading today because of effective and efficient leadership. Of course Europe has its own problems too, but when you walk in the streets of countries in Europe, you will have a feeling of perfection because they have good leadership. As a consequence good welfare packages must be provided.

African leaders must invest heavily in agriculture. Industries should be set up. This would provide jobs and also reduce the heavy reliance on European products.

Education is also very important in solving the problems of armed conflicts and insecurity in Africa. Financial poverty is part of cultural poverty, for which education is the only antidote. If you cure cultural poverty with education, financial poverty will be cured too. Education enhances productivity and creativity. Most schools and Universities in Africa are in poor shapes. This accounts for a large number of Africans trouping into American and European universities.

Further important, government must undertake very serious efforts to enlighten people on family planning. This is the ultimate key in addressing poverty in Africa. The various family units are very important to society and in positively transforming Africa. How can a man who lives with less than 30 dollar per day have seven children while believing one of them would grow up to be rich? This belief is archaic and senseless. It is true that children are blessings from God, but it is also true that God never told us to bring children that we cannot care for. This is a big issue in Africa. It is so because these children will become part of a growing society in the future and if they lacked the necessary education in life, they may likely become nuisance to the society at large.

The African Union must also reactivate its goals and concretise its relationship with regional economic bodies like ECOWAS, ECCAS, CEPGL, UDEAC, SADC and all other RECS. Regional Mechanisms are also important for general efficiency.


Samson Eyituoyo Liolio
Alfred  Nhema and Paul  T. Zeleza ”The Roots  of  African  Conflicts”
Ernest E. Uwazie (ed.), “Conflict  Resolution  and  Peace  Education  in  Africa”,   Lexington  Boos,  2003
The World Bank
Under  five  deaths  by  cause,  UNICEF,  2006