Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Signs of hope for alleviating hunger and poverty in Africa

17.09.2007
Despite the stagnation of economic development in much of sub-Saharan Africa, there are signs of hope for alleviating hunger and poverty in various African countries.

These signs of hope depend on increasing democratization, improving governance and strengthening the position of farmers, among other things. Perhaps this can lead to the highly desirable “green” revolution, which has already taken place in Asia and has led to an strong impulse to growth, but has difficulty getting started in Africa. This was the theme of Prof. Arie Kuyvenhoven's oration on the occasion of his retirement as Professor of Development Economics at Wageningen University on 13 September 2007.

Development economists have ascertained that growth in the agricultural sector in developing countries has a much stronger effect on income development than growth in non-agricultural sectors: 1% growth in the GNP from the agricultural sector leads to a 2.5% improvement in income, while 1% growth of the GNP in other sectors leads to less than 1% income growth, stated Professor Van Kuyvenhoven in his oration, Africa, Agriculture, Aid. This explains the economic development in Asia. On that continent, a green revolution occurred which was stimulated by the government, with a strong role for the market, and which was based on the phenomenon of the smallholder farmer. As a result, these countries could achieve independence in food production. International aid therefore played an important role in their economic development.

Poor governance
Virtually all these factors are absent in Africa, which continues to explain the general economic stagnation on that continent. Factors such as climate, geography and large-scale prevention of diseases such as malaria and AIDS do not affect economic development as much as was previously assumed. It appears that poor governance and weak social structures in African countries play a much larger role in slowing economic growth, said Kuyvenhoven. Most governments not only have a weak political power base and rely on a small urban elite, which also absorbs most of the government funding, but the political stability in those countries is often based on the non-intervention principle and foreign aid. Consequently, the majority of the population is excluded from modernization. In contrast, Asiatic governments – which are also not very democratic – aimed to acquire broad support from the population, which then became involved in the development process.

Kuyvenhoven cited figures to illustrate how the economic development in Africa has lagged behind that of Asia. In general, Africans living south of the Sahara are hardly better off than they were at the time of their independence 50 years ago. At that time, the average income in Africa was twice that of Asia. Now the average incomes in South Asia are significantly above those in Africa, and those in East Asia are three times as high. A similar trend can be seen in agricultural yields; in Asia, the yields are 2.5 to 4.5 times higher than those in Africa. The lack of attention of African governments for the rural area and agriculture is also illustrated in the corresponding government spending, including the investments in research and development. In Africa, these amounts are lower than ever: less than 7% of GNP, compared to 11% in Asia and nearly 13% in Latin America.

Despite the depressing picture of the state of African agriculture in general, Kuyvenhoven referred to the many initiatives, meetings and changes that are taking place at many locations on the continent. These are leading to far-reaching improvements in government structure, more transparency and increased participation, accompanied by technical progress and economic development. He believes this is related to the emergence of a new generation of intelligentsia and politicians. They are turning away from the old political culture of patronage and are serving a broader range of interests. In addition, more and more agricultural and yield-increasing technologies are becoming available which are adapted to African conditions. African governments are becoming increasingly aware that these technologies cannot be applied without supportive interventions.

Moreover, international aid, which until 1990 almost entirely missed the mark, has clearly become more effective. This is because the "architecture" of this aid is much better adapted to alleviating poverty and supporting attempts to improve governance; as a result, this aid is now contributing to economic growth. Kuyvenhoven noted that the economic development in Africa is now about 25 years – or one generation – behind that of Asia, but has a comparable growth rate. This offers a good perspective for the further development of Africa.

Jac Niessen | alfa
Further information:
http://www.wur.nl

More articles from Business and Finance:

nachricht Frugal Innovations: when less is more
19.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Arbeitswirtschaft und Organisation IAO

nachricht Europe's microtechnology industry is attuned to growth
10.03.2017 | IVAM Fachverband für Mikrotechnik

All articles from Business and Finance >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Fighting drug resistant tuberculosis – InfectoGnostics meets MYCO-NET² partners in Peru

28.04.2017 | Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Wireless power can drive tiny electronic devices in the GI tract

28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering

Ice cave in Transylvania yields window into region's past

28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis

28.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>