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Modern Studies

Politics of development in Africa


The background of development in Africa

Development has taken on a much broader meaning than simply economic progress and now has ecological, cultural and moral implications. The politics of development deals with the study of social, political, economic, cultural and environmental matters through a study of key issues such as poverty, gender relations and globalisation.

Some believe that to understand Africa's lack of development "geography is more important than history". The continent is rich in mineral resources, yet it remains the world's poorest region with the slowest development. The geographical reasons for this lack of development persist because of its heavy dependence on a small number of primary exports, climatic change, ethnic diversity and rapid demographic growth. Internal political and international relations, in the past and today, compound these problems.

Historically, the path towards development in many African countries has been significantly marked by the effects of colonialism (where a European power controlled the country) and post-colonialism (from the 1950s-1970s) when many African countries emerged from colonial rule. They were not prepared for, or experienced in, democracy. This often led to many changes of government and in many countries there has been dictatorship, where one man has ruled the country, backed by the military. As a result, kleptocracy has been rife; this is where corrupt leaders have amassed personal fortunes at the expense of the population, who are living in poverty. Their wealth has often been increased by using aid funds intended for their people. Although many of these leaders have been replaced, corruption is still a major problem. The instability in Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe today is an example of this.


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