Africa has been witnessing tremendous economic growth over the past few years. As a result, many critics of international aid have maintained that the continent no longer requires international assistance, claiming that international trade alone is sufficient to help continue Africa’s development.
In a recent op-ed, however, musician and activist Bob Geldof makes a compelling argument as to why Africa still needs aid, stating that aid is very much needed to support Africa’s development.
Africa’s economic initiatives, driven by increased international trade in natural resources, have certainly played a huge role in its development. The continent’s population is growing at 20% each year, the fastest growth rate in the world, and international trade is creating the jobs that are needed to ensure that unemployment rates do not increase. Africa has some of the world’s fastest growing economies, and investors are clamoring to make the most of this vast and fast-growing market’s potential.
However, there are several reasons why Africa still needs aid; trade alone is not enough to sustain development. Despite all the progress that has been made, 40% of Africa’s population still subsists on less than $1.25 a day. Other staggering statistics include that as recently as 2011, 19,000 children per day were dying from easily preventable illnesses. One out of every 39 African women die from pregnancy or childbirth related complications, compared to one out of 290 in Asia and one out of 3,800 in the developed world.
Despite the obvious moral motivations for aid, Geldof points out that an important goal of aid is actually entirely practical. He notes that Africa will soon become the world’s single largest consumer market, larger than India or China.
The urgent problems faced by many Africans cannot be solved by trade alone. Focused and effective aid is needed to decrease maternal and child mortality rates and increase immunization, for example. A healthy population is the foundation for economic growth, and the faster these problems are resolved, the faster companies from the developing world can begin benefiting from Africa’s realized market potential.
– Caroline Poterio Martinez