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If Africa Is So Rich, Why Is It So Poor?

Coltan mining in DRCMining coltan, a mineral used in the fabrication of cell phones, in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Photo by Responsible Sourcing Network
Mining of coltan, a key element in cellphones, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. RESPONSIBLE SOURCING NETWORK

They call it the Curse of Riches.

Although the African continent is blessed with gold, diamonds, oil, coltan, bauxite, uranium, iron ore and other valuable resources, its inhabitants have long numbered among the world’s poorest. While a few sub-Saharan African nations are doing relatively well, most are mired in poverty.

That a continent’s abundant natural resources can in so many cases have so little effect on its people’s quality of life over so many years is one of the great mysteries surrounding the grouping of 49 nations located south of the Sahara desert.

It is particularly vexing to the many international organizations, foreign governments and private groups that have been trying since the era of independence to promote regional development, food production, education, better housing, health care, improved infrastructure, jobs and economic growth. Although more than five decades have passed since the end of colonial times, African governments often still appear clueless when it comes to lifting their people from extreme poverty. Change can seem impossible.

Everyone seems to have a pet explanation for this tragic phenomenon, citing pervasive corruption, dysfunctional democratic institutions and justice systems, greedy multinational corporations, shady local and international elites, incompetent or ineffective international aid agencies, resource wars waged by domestic militias as well as outside armies and the vestiges of colonialism — or the advent of a new type of colonialism driven by players like China and Israel.

Extracting oil in Angola.
Extracting oil in Angola. JBDODANE/FLICKR

Tom Burgis, a journalist who covered Africa for the Financial Times for six years, makes a strong case for all these causes in his new book, “The Looting Machine: Warlords, Oligarchs, Corporations, Smugglers, and the Theft of Africa’s Wealth.” Burgis goes a step farther, arguing that each of us bears responsibility for this sorry situation every time we thoughtlessly fill our cars with gas, buy a gold or a diamond wedding ring, sip a fizzy drink in an aluminum can or use a cellphone.

In reporting on the subcontinent’s inner workings, “I started to see the thread that connects a massacre in a remote African village with the pleasures and comforts that we in the richer parts of the world enjoy. It weaves through the globalized economy, from war zones to the pinnacles of power and wealth in New York, Hong Kong, and London,” he writes in an author’s note, describing his desire to try to “follow that thread.”

The book shows great ambition, laying out the individual strands of the warp and woof of a huge tapestry of disparate individuals and business entities around the world systematically looting sub-Saharan Africa. Unfortunately, its disclosures are often mind-numbingly difficult to process because of the density of the material and its tendency to jump in a seemingly random fashion from country to country, shady individual to shady individual and shell corporation to shell corporation, searching for meaningful connections.

At its most eye-opening, the book describes the secret links from, say, a state-owned Chinese oil company to an obscure Chinese businessman with seven different names to a shell corporation to a second shell corporation to a major international investment firm to a close buddy of an African president. While the details are fascinating, the countries where Burgis turns up the most outrageous connections are sadly unsurprising. They are the ones you know in your gut are starving their people while enriching long chains of corporate giants, foreign government officials, secretive investment vehicles, local African officials and their business partners, friends and relatives.

Think Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, Zimbabwe and Equatorial Guinea, among others. Two of those countries, Angola and Nigeria, are currently sitting on the United Nations Security Council.

Tom Burgis
Tom Burgis, author of “The Looting Machine.”

What are we supposed to do about this? Burgis offers no easy answers apart from the need to expose the dirty laundry in all its glory.

Many people loudly lament the steady injection into such nations of fruitless foreign aid and economic assistance. But the rewards of looting are so substantial that they provide huge incentives for maintaining the status quo. The aid flow into Africa, Burgis notes, is tiny compared with the value of the exploited resources flowing in the other direction.

“Outsiders often think of Africa as a great drain of philanthropy, a continent that guzzles aid to no avail and contributes little to the global economy in return. But look more closely at the resource industry, and the relationship between Africa and the rest of the world looks rather different,” he says. “In 2010, fuel and mineral exports from Africa were worth $333 billion, more than seven times the value of the aid that went in the opposite direction (and that is before you factor in the vast sums spirited out of the continent through corruption and tax fiddles).”

So, the abuses will continue even if this or that shell corporation, corrupt African president or foreign robber baron is exposed, Burgis laments.

“The empires of colonial Europe and the Cold War superpowers have given way to a new form of dominion over the continent that serves as the mine of the world — new empires controlled not by nations but by alliances of unaccountable African rulers governing through shadow states, middlemen who connect them to the global resource economy, and multinational companies from the West and the East that cloak their corruption in corporate secrecy,” he writes. “We prefer not to think of the mothers of eastern Congo, the slum dwellers of Luanda, and the miners of Marange as we talk on our phones, fill up our cars, and propose to our lovers. As long as we go on choosing to avert our gaze, the looting machine will endure.”

“The Looting Machine: Warlords, Oligarchs, Corporations, Smugglers, and the Theft of Africa’s Wealth,” by Tom Burgis; 978-1-61039-439-0

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47 thoughts on “If Africa Is So Rich, Why Is It So Poor?

  1. I’m a Black American that works with AFRICAN AFRICAN WOMEN, that’s what’s saying how they wear nothing but 24k gold, have all types of boutiques! One last says if they get married in their African country the gifts are money! Whatever amount you get as a gift you have to double that when it’s their turn to receive a gift. At work they wear gold around their necks, and the most beautiful diamonds on their hands and wrist! So I’m saying all of this to say this. I don’t understand why they instilled in AMERICAN’S with the commercials about how broke the whole country of AFRICA is, when in actuality their just selfish individuals that chooses to keep their money amongst each other than to go out in other cities of AFRICA and supply food, build schools, and invest in hospitals outside their little community. Every time a commercial comes on about donating to them for this and that i literally turn the station!! I once was the type to feel said and cry, but meeting some and, researching Africa, I honestly don’t understand. We have ppl here in our own country that’s living worst than most of them but they get judged, looked down on, and no commercials asking for donations to help them get out of poverty. Both countries have poverty which is sad, but me being a Black Woman living in the USA, i will say our government TRIES to help our people whether they receive it in a positive way or not! But they want me to send money to a country who once their in our country they look down on us! We’re actually beneath them, while they have people back in their country starving, but wear gold and diamonds.

    • Half-way through your article you say “… the whole country of AFRICA is…” Well, there is a lot of ignorance contained there. Africa is not a country but a continent. Start by understanding this well and then you can talk about Africa

        • Not all Africans are wealthy nor rich.
          That article is a lie. If africa is so wealthy, it would pop up when you search how they’re hood life lives. I mean, behalf of the hood, city’s are filled with poor people. I’m not talking about a one side area. Just like America. Not everyone is wealthy. There is a Rich, Poor and, others such as homeless or what ever people call them. Just like Feed the children in which we have over 7 billion american’s watching it. Even with 50 cants to 1 dollar, they should have enough for moble homes or even, good food and clothing. Yet, they still have nothing. 1,000-10,000$ does not give just a bowl of rice. It is a lie and, a scam.

          • You’re right. many in Africa are poor because of the White people who came to steal their wealth and freedom. They mine the diamonds, they take the gold. Everything the white people touch they turn it to misery.

      • Raphael Bhembe, does it make a difference if she says country or continent at this point because of the statement of truth. So, explain that while should a country like the United States give to a continent of people that supposed to take care of their own people. There is evil everywhere on this planet and in reality I have to work hard in my country to provide food for myself and my family. I am not a selfish person but I will do what is possible to give to my family, first. So, since Africa is a continent then do your jobs and take care of your people. The reason that people are starving is because the same evil that is in Africa is also in other countries as well. You have enough resources to do what needs to be done for your people. Do your jobs and take care of your people and your continent.

        • Do your job and take care of your own people? Hahaha…please don’t make me laugh. Haven’t you ever heard of the Berlin Conference? Do you know why AFRICOM is stationed permanently on the continent till today? The US gets its uranium from Niger Republic and Namibia (which is why Apartheid was perpetuated and delayed for decades), the Ebola scare was because of the largest deposit of diamonds on the Liberian-Sierra Leone border and the US responded by sending in military troops as opposed to health workers. 3 million Biafrans were killed deliberately by UK and American-backed Nigerian forces so they could keep the crude oil reserves the Hausas in Nigeria were bamboozled into singing over to them. the CEO of the largest gold producing company in Eritrea earns x10000 more than the President of the nation. 85% of the world’s Coltan, which the west cannot do without, (used in the production of GPS, smartphones, missile guidance systems, avionics and laptops) is found in Congo which is why western-backed militia groups have been embroiled in a 60 year civil war. Do your jobs you say? Maybe if white people would get out of Africa and stop leeching off the continent we would be less hard pressed to get along with the business of not being killed. The same evil that is in Africa is also in other countries because there is a common denominator……white Europeans, the scourge of the earth. Everywhere they go, death and destruction follows. King Leopold killed 15 million Congolese to make Belgium a world power in rubber production. If there is a race of people that should have been eradicated from the face of the planet a long time ago so others could live in peace……well, you know the rest. Peace out. Don’t reply, I won’t read it.

          • Ignorant assholes debating over how should I feel and how should you feel, I see.

            What I learned is no one wants to really find a solution to this problem. Everyone just wants to feel gratified. Victim or exploiter alike. All humans just want to be on the winning side.

            However this assumes a zero sum game, which is unwise. That zero sum game you all have assumed, is the root of the problem. Change comes from individuals themselves risking what they’ve got to break the system.

            And to the person who won’t read replies anymore, you are the definition of ignorance, literally (cuz you don’t want to listen, now you’re an immature kid). Also, I understand that europeans have been jerks to the whole world since the 1400s, but that does not justify your intention to kill all of them. After all, it’s the culture that creates the monster, not the skin color, nor the genetics. If the east coast of sub saharan Africa had a Renaissance, they in turn would have progressed much more in terms of technology. Now in that alternate timeline, replace ‘Africans’ with Europeans and you get the idea. Imperialism and colonialism comes when you have an imbalance in economic output, in which case happened in Europe because of 2 things:
            1. Knowledge from the Arabic world,
            Which led to
            2. Science and technology which resulted in a population boom and a huge increase in GDP.
            With this surplus, humans tend to find newer territories to sustain that kind of economic growth. There, you have the answer.

            In case your racist self is wondering, no, I’m not a white European, nor a sub saharan african.
            I’m an east asian born and bred in southeast asia. And I can attest that racial oppression is not something uniquely european. Go research racial discrimination in Malaysia. The constitution only loves a race and despises the others. Although the magnitude of oppression is not as severe as in Africa, but the concept still holds.

          • Thanks for that knowledge Skot, a lot of us are very ignorant and still truly blind about whats really going on in this dammed world. Lord help us!!

          • That is why the white kids of European descend do not understand the people from poor nations. They grow up thinking their countries were “superior”, the history books, in school, are fill with details of military force; “civilizing savages” when in reality the savages were the white Europeans that build empires in the back of the peace nations. Still in the New Continent happens before Africa and China, now the movies, TV, modern phones, etc. are brainwashing the same people with the new fad “technology”. Social media is created by the descendants of the slavery, conquest and colonization. Wake up people!

      • Mr. Raphael B.

        That’s not the point! Give me a break!

        Your being somewhat of a smart aleck-esque!

        The subject is about Africa’s economy!

        I’ve seen an episode of how many countries go into Africa and take, and
        take, and take: diamonds, gold, oil, etc. The head/s of state from what I’ve seen in one episode on “60 Minutes”; reap the Reward! But the citizenry either little or nothing!

        I’m not sure what nation wide magazine.com it was. But it show the continent of Africa, with a massive black hole in
        the middle. Which is an illustration of how much the world takes out of Africa, and brings back to their countries and
        benefits greatly. Including America!

        What other countries have take out, it doesn’t mean, help has not come to Africans. Its politics… just like at home
        here… By the way, I saw, on some TV Show, it might have be “60 Minutes” or back in the day when “20/20” was
        good, or it was on “Nightline”; the showed how governments are like a kleptocracy! Something like the (history) of America: “Taxation without representation”.

        A Non Sequitur:

        I remember years back, when the so-called U.S.-Black “Leaders”, had said on
        national news (TV)… We want to be called… “African-American”. — I HAD FROWNED AT THAT!! I DIDN’T LIKE THAT AT ALL!!

        Some time later, I remember getting into a conversation with a black man, and
        I told him what I thought. He expressed: “YO’ ANCESTORS…” I replied
        How do you know where my ancestors come from?! (…he paused…) Then I
        said, according to some family members, we have this… The he had said, I
        have Iris in me. I had said, then you contradicting yourself! He expressed: I’m not

        This is to whomever reads this. I didn’t say: Why doesn’t he call himself: Africa-[Iris ]-American!?…

        Guys have a good one! B

  2. It’s all about greed get rid of the dollar bill then what do you have….why is Africa letting outside private companies mine anyways. Just imagine what $333 billion can do for the country..The government doesn’t see it because there too focus on living like the western world and filling pockets. It’s the same here in the USA they just took away the middle class. Poverty is hidden here or it’s only one race of people us black people. Just ask your self why is everybody eating off of Africa expect for the people of Africa.

    • To be sure, yes, human beings – the world all over – are greedy and evil at heart. But my hunch, since I have not done my own extensive research, tells me that something else is amiss. As you stated, William, why is everyone eating off of Africa? Well, if you look at history, what countries have been most active in imperialism (forcing their way into other countries and stealing their resources) all of this time? Come on now, say it with me . . . AMERICA AND EUROPE!!!!!

      This response was edited.

    • On one is “eating off Africa”, as Africa is now sadly a HUGE Net IMPORTER of foodstuffs!
      Just 50 years ago, this was not the case: Africa was, as a whole, self-sufficient in food production, and today is completely dependent on imports, and ‘Food Aid’!

      Many, many African Nations since Independence have only gone backwards:
      “while food production has grown globally by 145% over the past 40 years, African food production has fallen by 10% since 1960. Only 4% of the continent’s crop land is irrigated. Fertilisers, pesticides and high-quality seeds are prohibitively expensive and in short supply.

      Juma said: “African agriculture is at the crossroads. We have come to the end of a century of policies that favoured Africa’s export of raw materials and importation of food. Africa is starting to focus on agricultural innovation as its new engine for regional trade and prosperity.”
      https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2010/dec/02/africa-feed-itself-generation

  3. Africa is poor because of lack of commitment to good governance which can be seen in unwillingness to produce audited financial statements by government controlled instituations like marketing boards and local authorities which controls distribution of produces and natural resources.If there is no proper accountability and tranceparency revenue will not find its way to the tressurery. This will result in unfair distribution of national resources which will find its way into hands of afew individuals.

    lack of incentive to save and invest cannot be left out as it leads to consumption without corresponding earnings.

  4. You people seem not to get it, I am from Nigeria, why Africa is poor is very simple, the black race cannot coordinate themselves in any way to build a developed economies, you can see for selves that any black majority city in the US is filled with poverty eg. Chicago, Detroit and even Haiti. the black race need help, we do not value education in technology. there seems to be no help now as the left wing Europe will never agree with this narrative and cling to political correctness. Except every industry in the world is forced to open a manufacturing branch in Africa where there will be transfer of technology, Africa will always be slaves to some masters.

    • The Black African civilization of Khemet/Egypt civilized Europe by establishing the Greco Roman Empires. When the white barbarians ended this Europe fell into the dark ages.
      THese dark ages of disease and endless war ended only after the Black African Moors conquered and civilized Southern Europe AGAIN for EIGHT HUNDRED YEARS. Thus saving the white Europeans from living as unwashed plague ridden barbarians. Black Africans gave Europeans hygiene, science, academia, commercialization, high culture, civics and pretty much everything that comprises civilization.

      Today the nation with the largest black population outside of Africa is the largest economy on Earth (America). European nations with no black populations are poorer than many African Nations (Easter Europe).

      Sorry sir but reality disagrees with you.

      This comment was edited.

      • The Egyptians were anything but ‘Black’, (as their own art clearly records!), and NEVER identified themselves as even Africans, but a Mediterranean People just like the Phoenicians and Mesopotamian contempories!
        They did however regularly raid African peoples to the South of them for slaves.

        The Ancient Greeks owe ZERO to the African continent, and Western Civilization and the Science and Democracy Ancient Greece spawned from it, are PURELY a European invention, that spread throughout the World with Europeans!

        • “Egyptians were anything but Black”? You wish! But no surprise here. The White Man is still stealing Africa and what you started with was to steal our history.
          Of course, Egypt was African so keep you Mediterranean BS. The colonizers worked hard to even divide Africa between Blacks and non-Blacks. Indeed, there would have been no Greek Civilization without Africa.

  5. First, Africa isn’t a major producer of gold. Only South Africa and Ghana are in the top 15 countries in production, and they only combine for about 250 tonnes out of the 3,000 tonnes produced globally. Secondly, mining companies average only about a 7% return on investment – a marginal business, subject to long bust cycles. The issues on poverty are much deeper, but it’s overly simplistic to just blame foreign investors. By blaming outsiders, people are distracted from addressing the real reasons

  6. I appeal to any wise man in Africa to sit down and come out with tangeble solutions our leaders even under au are so confused we have no true leaders but thieves politicians are the worst enemy of economic development look at Zimbabwe.congo Swaziland south Africa is following I pray for a day God will raise up true leaders I visited Zimbabwe people are suffering more than the time of Smith Africa has no leader yet

  7. Tom Burgis, why don’t you try researching your own country, or continent’s history of slave-trading, and looting and pillaging other lands for their own gain, you just might discover (if you are honest) why certain other places are not doing so well, presently.

  8. Secondly, i think the problem of Africa is the comfort zone we enjoyed in the past for so long. Think of vast fertile land, food through out the year, good climate, access to cheap food in some of our villages. Some of us didn’t see any need of working hard, we did not have reasons to toil.
    Now, with climate change brought about by industrialisation in Europe, our comfort zone is disappearing away, we are realising need to work harder to put food on the table.

    • What you hint at in your post has been postulated as a reason for better and more productive development in Northern Latitudes in Eurasia. In short, Northern peoples who may have migrated north had to, for the first time ever, contend with long cold winters, that Africa has never known!

      So our ancestors had to learn VERY quickly, that in order to survive, just to see another summer, one had to work so hard to grow enough in this summer to see us through the long dark winter, that even in the good times, (the short warm summer of Northern Europe say), that there was no time for rest but a need for long, hard days of work, in the days where we have anything between 18-24 hours of daylight!

      This is a need and discipline that no African ever had to learn, when one can grow 4 or 5 harvests a year, and there is no winter to worry about…………And we see the cost of that ‘failure’ to change in Africa today, sadly.

  9. i am from Djibouti Africa…This book is outstanding…thank you. It is truth. There is no fatality…we can change the structure and culture in order to eliminate the individuals and systems who are the vestiges of colonialism from the west or neocolonialism from the East

  10. Africa is not poor, if that were e the case, investments of (at times) 40% – as is the case of Chinese engagement with Sudan- would cease to exist.

    Africa is a victim whose own guardians (government) add significantly to her abuse. This continues to happen mainly due to an imbedded and almost indelible culture especially established and reinforced by political agendas.

    There is no need to feel sorry for Africa. Any global citizen (truly) interested in this matter ought to accept and embrace the responsibility to abolish sympathy and rather assume holding their gove nments resposible for their role in this abusive and destructive relationship in which Africa is constantly reaching for the frozen peas.

    The above action (which I believe to be a paramount and vital resolution) will continue to take the backseat due to its ability to be radically transformative causing a threatening damages to the status quo.

    The status quo throughout the ages has been perpetuated as is cushion of ne the minority with the most to gain. War, unrest and controlled media are tools to aid the contaction of the status quo.

    Hold your government responsible for their contribution to war, unrest (political, economic and socially) and other distracting tools. Africa is not poor , she is plagued by her own wealth which is abused for the fulfillment of multiple beneficiaries.

  11. A wonderful article on the realities of corruption and the distribution of wealth unevenly. Africa needs better government and infrastructure to empower it’s people taker back our industries and sell to the new colonizing strategist who want our natural resources. The cyce of abuse and pillaging has to stop. I can’t wait to read more of this book. Thank you for shinning a light on this horrible situation.

  12. Africa is blessed and rich but our leaders has sold their conscience to greed and selfishness and has allowed foreigners to talk whatever goods the want from us and leave us in fighting each other so that we will never have time to sit down and think when did our problem started and why is it that we are blessed but we can’t see the impact in our nations. lastly if we can’t control the media we will still be what the foreigners want us to look like.

  13. So it is good that most of us know the problems of the African continent. I am a Nigerian, and I am glad a lot of people are fed up of the problems we face. Something wat more important than talking about this, however, is to act. Do something. No mater how small, make a tangible impact. Not in aid because most people don’t need that, but in fighting for what is right. Fighting by you words and actions.

    Mind my English. ????

    • hey.. I appreciate your message. Thank you. Cameroon My country has what it takes to elevate the country for the betterment of all. Aid isn’t what we need. its pieces of Genuine Action and Collaboration. I think the Major Reason is we lack the aspect of working as one people for the betterment of all (TEAM). All the same not long from My Africa would be a place for the rest of the world to visit.

      Lets Get to Work.

  14. America has never set up colonies in Africa. Not one. What did we do exactly to steal from Africa? Be exact and show me some articles you cant just make it up a call it a fact.

    America has both more iol and gold than Africa when Alaska is included. What would we have to gain by stealing what we already have?

    Gold Stuff:
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_gold_production

    Iol stuff:
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_oil_production

  15. If you are at a loss as to why Africa is so poor, despite it’s resources, you don’t know anything about capitalism or the history of colonialism and imperilaism.

  16. Rubbish. Africa isn’t looted. Africans never exploited resources. It takes huge investment and know how. Further resource rich countries seem to develop less. It’s a poor crutch. A combination of extreme corruption, superstition, socialism, and excessive heat/illness mire much of the continent. Try living there and opening a business. Or being white. Reverse racism is real. It may be a post colonial dark sentiment but it’s not ok. Nor is the gangsterism preventing entrepreneurship.

    • You don’t have to live in Africa to know what causes it’s problems. Massive corruption and a true lack of respect for one’s fellow men/women is what & has been killing Africa for centuries. I notice that none of the bleeding heart liberals here have mentioned a very major reason for the never ending destruction in Africa………tribal hatreds/rivalries. Its killed millions and will continue to do so. Its not the ‘white man’….its the indigenous man thats doing the killing.

  17. The subject I wonder why is about Africa’s economy.not in competition… and behind so much?!

    I’d say, its part of the leaders doing. And thus, you reap with yourself. Rather the leaders are FAT!
    And his people are impoverished…

    I’ve seen an episode of how many countries go into Africa and take, and
    take, and take: diamonds, gold, oil, etc. The head/s of state from what I’ve seen in one episode on “60 Minutes”; reap the Reward! But the citizenry either little or nothing!

    I’m not sure what nation wide magazine.com it was. But it show the continent of Africa, with a massive black hole in
    the middle. Which is an illustration of how much the world takes out of Africa, and brings back to their countries and
    benefits greatly. Including America!

    What other countries have take out, it doesn’t mean, help has not come to Africans. Its politics… just like at home
    here… By the way, I saw, on some TV Show, it might have be “60 Minutes” or back in the day when “20/20” was
    good, or it was on “Nightline”; the showed how governments are like a kleptocracy! Something like the (history) of America: “Taxation without representation”.

    A Non Sequitur:

    I remember years back, when the so-called U.S.-Black “Leaders”, had said on
    national news (TV)… We want to be called… “African-American”. — I HAD FROWNED AT THAT!! I DIDN’T LIKE THAT AT ALL!!

    Some time later, I remember getting into a conversation with a black man, and
    I told him what I thought. He expressed: “YO’ ANCESTORS…” I replied
    How do you know where my ancestors come from?! (…he paused…) Then I
    said, according to some family members, we have this… The he had said, I
    have Iris in me. I had said, then you contradicting yourself! He expressed: I’m not

    This is to whomever reads this. I didn’t say: Why doesn’t he call himself: Africa-[Iris ]-American!?…

    Guys have a good one! B

  18. I guess the comments section will be very cancerous. Oh yes it is.
    Why can’t people just have a straight to the point discussion? People here seem to throw daggers around before they even speak.
    Yes, the problem here is very big, and a very grave one. But that does not justify you throwing your tantrums like an 8-year old. The writer of the article has a point, think about that. Don’t just reject it on sight.
    Also, I get why people are racist. “Cuz you don’t look like us, so you’re not one of us, and I want it to stay this way, so I lie to myself about how bad other people are while glorifying my ‘own’ people.” It’s simple.

  19. This is a very interesting question indeed and for which I have spent several years researching. May I provide some of the following insights. Apologies for spelling and grammatical errors…this will be free-hand.
    One fist analysts the assumption of the question –

    What is meant by rich and what is poor?
    Well it depends on who is defining these words and why since these words are socioeconomic and not scientific…..they are defined by humans for humans.
    As a member of the human race I…me…a 43-year-old black man can define rich as – how much rocks I have in my garden. Thus poor is a lack of rocks.
    So rocks are very plentiful and thus have no scarcity value or utility or subjective value. I chose rocks at random to be honest but it will be a very good way to explain what money used to be.
    Money for over 4000yrs used to be a very rare and special kind of commodity…..gold.

    Money has a number of key properties. The main ones being a store of value and they next being a medium of exchange.

    For money to function at an optimum it can not be too strong a store of value or too strong a medium of exchange. Currently there is @2-4g of gold for every living person on earth and its value -its purchasing power is thus stable over hundreds of yrs due to this per capita scarcity.
    In absolute terms there is @170 thousand tonnes of above ground stocks of gold according to the world gold counsel that can be exchanged for any other form of fiat currency very easily, so there are no issues with liquidity and gold being a medium of exchange.
    Thus gold is money and those who have gold are rich and those who do not are poor. This goes for countries.
    If one checks out the USGS website and looks at the gold producing countries this will show you the rich list and the poor list. African countries are in the top 10…..of the rich list in financial terms since gold is and has always been money.

    End of story…..these are undisputed facts. Unfortunately African governments are all members of the IMF which made using gold almost illegal. Thus reducing said nations into the poor house holding out for fiat money loans with a begging bole. The irony of this is too much to believe.

  20. A part of the solution must be a deep look at exactly what are the top 3 challenges for this population in terms of day to day living and existing.

    I have identified:
    #1Water — How can we learn and share the process of purifying dirty water?
    #2 Food — How can we provide seeds that are heat-cool-insect tolerant?
    #3 Shelter — How can we enable the population with pop up tents?

  21. The United States can barely take care of their selves we owe a lot of countries Money you can’t help anyone else until you can help yourself that goes for the United States we need to take care our country and our people we need to get out of debt and we need to build a better country for ourselves before you worry about someone else it is the governments responsibility to take care of thier people just as it’s the United States to take care of their People

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