Africa’s cultural economy and
economic geography
BA International Studies
The Hague; November 9, 2012
Ton Dietz
Source; the Economist
October 20, 2012, p. 34
Africa: Remarkable Economic Growth
Source; The
October 20,
2012 p. 23
Source: De
Volkskrant, October
25, 2012, p. 23
And visit:
However: growing inequality;
and desperately in need of
more inclusive development
G =Gini coefficient;
X = proportion of population
Y = proportion of Income
Source; The Economist
October 20, 2012 p. 23
What about the
and the USA?
< source: De Volkskrant
Nov 3, 2012, p. 22
source: De Volkskrant
Nov 3, 2012, p. 12
Sub Sahara Africa: position in the world (around 1990)
Method of the American geographer John Cole
Population: 10%
Area: 18%
Productive Land: 13%
Sweet water: 15%
Fossile fuels: 4%
Minerals: 18%
Total natural resources: 14%
• Natural resources index: 137 (world average 100)
• Economic index (GDP/capita): 25 (idem)
Africa’s poverty level
% under poverty level of 1$/day:
Dev countries Africa
Rich but also poor
• Many different reasons:
• Natural environment: relatively many poor,
exhausted soils; major climate-related
risks (droughts; floods) = low agricultural
labour productivity; not a lot of agricultural
surplus for sale
• But in some areas; natural abundance: no
‘push for innovation’?
Climate fluctuations in the Sahel,
example Mali 1920-2000
Health: Exposure to tropical diseases (e.g.
malaria) and HIV-AIDS, but also impact of
malnutrition: undermines physical and mental
strength + low labour productivity + high costs for
Impact of heat and rainy-seasons on labour input
and effectiveness
Geography: Many people live in places that are
isolated; far from coasts and far from cities; long
and expensive transport routes; agroecological/natural barriers north-south and eastwest
Knowledge: low investments in knowledge
infrastructure (‘modern education’); low skills to
deal with global competition
Labour (skilled) labour is expensive and not
‘disciplined’ and skilled enough to compete with
Lack of entrepreneurship: A lot of investment in
social relations, to spread risks : family, religious
groups, ethnic groups. Barriers to invest in
‘modern’ companies and difficulties to grow from
micro to large-scale companies.
Old images of Africa’s lack of progress: scientific
racism and stereotypes
Sub-Sahara Africa and the world:
differences in ‘human capital’ around 2000
• Life expectancy: SSA: 47 jaar
• Child mortality:
SSA: 162/1000
• Analfabetism:
SSA: 39%
(adults = > 15 jaar)
World: 66 jaar
World: 78/1000
World: <15%
Colonialism, imperialism, dependency!
• Continued impact of colonialism; colonial
mentality: lack of initiative; lack of
• Exploitation at world scale; Africa’s mineral and
agricultural exports underpaid; African labourers
subsidize the world economy; no real value
added; frustrated/killed industrialization
• The world dumps goods in Africa and does not
accept Africa’s produce (import tariffs; quality
Exploration and exploitation
Or is it “governance”?
• ‘Bad governance’: corruption, kleptocrats,
internal exploitation, elites do not care; precolonial patron-client relations still survive
• Development aid has made dependent; elites
have to convince donors and not their own
population: undermining of democracy : Etc.
Or is it war and violence?
• Insecurity because of civil wars, weak
governments, threats of coups and political
strife; continuous ethno-territorial tensions;
continuation of colonial state structures and
• Whenever there is investment in physical
infrastructure: damage because of war, lack of
maintenance, theft.
• A lot of investment in human capital’ not very
effective because people die young due to wars
and diseases
Maps of violence and wars
Enormous demographic change!
• Sub-Sahara Africa: From 100 million in
1900 to 600 million in 2005; Africa as a
whole now > 1 billion
• Enormous migration: people on the move
• Very fast urbanization: 1960: 20% = 65
million; now 45% = 460 million
• Big differences within Africa: in some
areas population decline!
Urbanisation West Africa 19602020
Understanding the cultural
economy of Africa
• In many households: diversity of labour
activities and sources of income
Of the produce of labour
• a lot goes to next of kin
• and to in-laws (bridewealth arrangements;
credit brides; old age support)
• and to clan elders and ethnic leaders
• and to ritual consumption ‘explosions’:
marriages; funerals; etc.
But also
• Lots of payments to religious leaders
(zakat; 10% Christians), to local
government; to women group leaders, to
village leaders, to owners of land, water or
forests, to the central government (taxes,
fines), to army/police/militias; to other
types of ‘protectors’, to moneylenders, etc,
And from what remains
• Part can be consumed; part can be
bartered; part can be stored; part can be
traded, but often for low rewards to the
primary producers.
• And a considerable part is lost because of
waste, theft, violence, war, fires, floods,
and other forms of loss.
Understanding Africa
• By a combination of different scientific sources
of information:
• Climatology, soil science, physical geography;
• Demography, health sciences, cultural
anthropology, economics, governance studies
• Precolonial, colonial and postcolonial history
• Cultural studies (languages, art, religion)
• And social geography to study regional diversity,
scale, and connections
Africa’s diversity
• Climate: from very dry to ultra wet
• Soils; from very fertile to badlands
• People; from very innovative to very
• Economy; from fast growth to stagnation or
decline; and often with major fluctuations
• Governance: from good, effective and
democratic to very bad, coercive and exploitative
Thank you!
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Sub Sahara Afrika: aandeel in de wereld (rond 1990)