IT CANNOT be overemphasised
that African conflicts are remarkably
unexceptional; they have complex
histories; they exhibit multiple and
multidimensional causes, courses and
consequences. Most of these causes are
deep-rooted in colonial legacies. By
this I mean the complex structures left
by the colonialists in parts of Africa.
For instance, animosity between the
Hutus and Tutsis of Ruanda started in
1916 when Belgian colonists labelled
the group as distinct entities, by
introducing ID cards according to their
ethnicity. Of course this manifested
into the April 1994 Ruanda genocide.
Nigeria also have similar situation
which is presently resulting to
militancy in the South-south Nigeria.
These whole structures have
culminated into one basic and
complex problem in Africa; and that is
poverty (unemployment). Poverty is a
big issue in Africa and has accounted
for the rising degree of conflicts
in Africa. This paper analyses the
causal relationship between poverty
and conflicts in Africaand suggest
solutions to this grave problem.
In my opinion, 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 don’t 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 and 2.7 billion lived 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 five
each year in developing countries.
Apart from the massive deaths
resulting from poverty in Africa, the
very big one 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
African thinking that people in power
get rich.
People want to control the resources
of the country. The past wars in Congo,
Darfur, Nigeria and Liberia have roots
in 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 and consequently they desperately
get into some sort of conflicts.
Effects of poverty in Africa include
death, child trafficking, drug trafficking,
prostitution, armed robbery, insecurity
and rigging of elections by hungry
youths being used by politicians/
election malpractice.
Others are rebellion, terrorism or
militancy, lack of basic necessities of life,
child labour, transmission of diseases
e.g. H.I.V., corruption, assassination and
conflicts. The truth is that, the bulks of
the listed effects are conflict-related and
culminate into armed conflicts at the
slightest opportunity.
Causes of poverty in Africa include
unemployment, bad leadership/poor
governance, corruption, poverty is also
resulting from Africa’s excessive reliance
on foreign culture and products, poor
economy and illiteracy.
The prevalent nature of armed conflict
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
The gains toward reducing absolute
poverty over the past decade have
been reversed. People living below the
poverty line in sub-Saharan Africa rose
to 52.5 percent in 2008 and these whole
issues account for the rise in armed
conflicts and insecurity in Africa.
Eliminating poverty:
From the above, it is clear that there is
a relationship between armed conflicts
and poverty in Africa. A very hungry
man is vulnerable to invitation by a
criminal group when if some kind
of food or money is offered. In fact
poverty has been blamed for 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
infrastructures and corruption. These
are key issues in resolving conflicts in
The truth is that most of the
people 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 are 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. 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 our much 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.
Importantly too, government must
make very serious efforts to enlighten
people on family planning. This for
me is key in addressing poverty in
Africa. The various family units are
very important to the state and in
the positive transformation of Africa.
How can a man who lives with less
than 30 dollar per day have seven
children, believing that one 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 cater for. This is a big issue in
Africa. It is so because these children
will become part of the larger 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 efficiency.