Why Is Africa Poor? Here’s Your Answer

Hello, this is Timothy from I AM NG and today, I’ll be answering the question of why Africa is poor.

First, we need to rid ourselves of the idea that Africa is poor. Africa isn’t poor, its people are.

Africa has immense amounts of wealth and this comes in different forms like land, water, mineral resources, oil and agriculture.

Why is Africa poor? Africa resources

But despite the amount of wealth Africa boasts, there is little to no reflection of this wealth in the livelihood of its people.

Why is this? While there are many reasons or rather excuses that we can give. In this article, I will cite most of them but before we do that, let me first correct something.

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Africa isn’t uniformly poor!

Yes, Africa isn’t uniformly poor. The bitter truth is wealth is unevenly distributed in Africa. The wealth is in the hands of a tiny minority.

I will talk more on the above in later parts of this article. For now, let us go back to the reasons why Africans are poor.


Colonialism is the ugly past of the African people. Until half a century ago, most parts of Africa was colonized by largely European superpowers: Great Britain, Portugal, France and even Germany. The aftereffect of colonialism is poor infrastructural development in the colonized countries. This births poverty.

The colonizers shipped off most of Africa’s wealth to their countries and even harvested its manpower. While colonialism was still in effect, several tribal lines were breached (but not destroyed) and homogeneity which existed in the olden days empires were lost in favour of nationalistic patriotism.

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When colonialism eventually left Africa, it left the continent in a state of rubble, with tribes that in times past, didn’t see eye-to-eye left to govern themselves. This resulted in instability in governance as one group would wish to govern unopposed over the other. This was not so when old African empires controlled their own resources and people.

Although colonialism brought some positives things to Africa, it destroyed Africa’s complex balance of social stability and resulted in Africans being incapable or rather unwilling to live with themselves.

The above brings us to the next reason why Africa is poor.


Africans have always valued homogeneity. It has always been like that from time memorial. Despite Africa’s tribal diversity, many tribes sort to dominate over others and this resulted in the development of empires as means of survival (safety in numbers).

But Africa’s tribal diversity was a problem to the colonialists and is still a problem to Africa itself.

At first, the diversity of Africa meant the colonialists could control them as they just had to set them against each other. But that soon became a problem when these colonialists gained control.

Merging the tribes into one with a nationalistic ideal became a problem. This problem was not solved until African colonialism met its end.

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Because of age long rivalry (some which were partly fueled by colonialists), several tribes could not function together as one. Because of this inability to work together, Africa remained poor despite the absence of colonialism.

We see cultural homogeneity as an ever present character in developed countries like China, Great Britain, Japan, Germany, etc. If these countries were made of thousands of tribes that couldn’t peacefully coexist, perhaps they wouldn’t have experienced the success they did today.

Poor African people: Why is Africa poor?

Lack of education

If there’s one thing the colonialists tried to do right, it was their desire to introduce education to the Africans. Even at this, Africa had always been educated although not uniformly. Some of the oldest universities exist in Africa.

However, ethnic beliefs and religious fanaticism meant some Africans deliberately cut themselves from the western education that the Europeans tried to introduce at the time. We see an example of this in SOME parts of Northern Nigeria.

If Africa were uniformly educated in the arts, business and science, perhaps we might have seen a more wealthier pool of African people.

Thank you for reading. Please comment and share this article.