Many ignore average IQ in discussing Africa's problems 

The three articles by BBC below are part of a reasonable coverage of basic problems in Africa.  They point to war, corruption, and poor management in the continent.  But these articles, like many in the liberal press, do not bring up the important fact that average IQ's in Africa are some of the lowest in the world.  Studies, such as at one of this website's most read pages, show a very clear link between IQ and poverty  (from )
Racial/ Ethnic Differences graphed:

In Figure 2 below, the data is divided into contributions from four groups: blacks, (European) whites, East Asians and "others," The "others" include Asian Indians, Latin Americans, Pacific Islanders, Middle Easterners, other Asians, etc. Many of these countries have racially or ethnically heterogeneous populations. The outliers (South Africa, Barbados, Qatar and China) are not included in the graph:

 above graph from

Why is the African continent poor? 


Children in South Sudan

By Mark Doyle
BBC world affairs correspondent

The desolate, dusty town of Pibor on South Sudan's border with Ethiopia has no running water, no electricity and little but mud huts for the population to live in.

You would be hard put to find a poorer place anywhere on earth.

I went there as part of a journey across Africa to ask the question "Why is Africa poor?" for a BBC radio documentary series.

We have oil and many other minerals - go name it
Barnaba Benjamin, South Sudan regional co-operation minister

I was asked to investigate why it is that the vast majority of African countries are clustered at or near the bottom of the United Nations Human Development Index - in other words they have a pretty appalling standard of living.

In Pibor, the answer to why the place is poor seems fairly obvious.

The people - most of whom are from the Murle ethnic group - are crippled by tribal conflicts related to disputes over cattle, the traditional store of wealth in South Sudan.

The Murle have recently had fights with the Lol Nuer group to the north of Pibor and with ethnic Bor Dinkas to the west.

In a spate of fighting with the Lol Nuer earlier this year several hundred people, many of them women and children, were killed in deliberate attacks on villages.

There has been a rash of similar clashes across South Sudan in the past year (although most were on a smaller scale than the fights between the Lol Nuer and the Murle).

And so the answer to why South Sudan is poor is surely a no-brainer: War makes you destitute.

Why is there so much war?

And yet South Sudan is potentially rich.

"It's bigger than Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi combined," the South Sudan Regional Co-operation Minister Barnaba Benjamin, enthused.

"Tremendous land! Very fertile, enormous rainfall, tremendous agricultural resources. Minerals! We have oil and many other minerals - go name it!"

Our leaders, they just want to keep on being rich. And they don't want to pay taxes
Fisherman on Lake Victoria

The paradox of rich resources and poor people hints at another layer of explanation about why Africa is poor.

It is not just that there is war. The question should, perhaps be: "Why is there so much war?"

And the headline question is in fact misleading; Africans as a people may be poor, but Africa as a place is fantastically rich - in minerals, land, labour and sunshine.

That is why outsiders have been coming here for hundreds of years - to invade, occupy, convert, plunder and trade.

The spectres of slavery and colonialism hover in the background of almost every serious conversation with Africans about why most of them are poor.

It almost goes without saying that, of course, slavery impoverished parts of Africa and that colonialism set up trading patterns which were aimed at benefitting the coloniser, not the colonised.

But there is a psychological impact too.

Hajia Amina Az-Zubair, the Nigerian president's senior adviser on poverty issues, told me that colonialism "was all about take, not build", and that this attitude "transferred itself into a lot of mindsets".

Even today, Ms Zubair said it was sometimes difficult to design poverty-reduction programmes that were inclusive:

"You sit round a table and ask 'What are your needs?' and you get an absolute blank. Because for years, they've been told what they're going to have. So even the ability to engage has been difficult for us."

The resources of South Sudan have never been properly developed.

During colonial rule South Sudan was used as little more than a reservoir of labour and raw materials.

Then independence was followed by 50 years of on-off war between the south and north - with northerners in Khartoum continuing the British tactic of divide and rule among the southern groups.

Some southerners believe this is still happening today.


On my journey across the poorest, sub-Saharan swathe of the continent - that took in Liberia and Nigeria in the west, Sudan in the centre, and Kenya in the east - people explored the impact that both non-Africans and Africans had had on why Africa is poor.

Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf
Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf says she underestimated the problem of graft

Almost every African I met, who was not actually in government, blamed corrupt African leaders for their plight.

"The gap between the rich and the poor in Africa is still growing," said a fisherman on the shores of Lake Victoria.

"Our leaders, they just want to keep on being rich. And they don't want to pay taxes."

Even President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia came close to this when she told me she had underestimated the level of corruption in her country when she took office.

"Maybe I should have sacked the whole government when I came to power," she said.

"Africa is not poor," President Johnson-Sirleaf added, "it is poorly managed."

This theme was echoed by an architect in Kenya and a senior government official in Nigeria.

Both pointed out that the informal sector of most African economies is huge and almost completely unharnessed.

Eastleigh in Nairobi
Eastleigh has the most expensive real estate in Nairobi

Marketplaces, and a million little lean-to repair shops and small-scale factories are what most urban Africans rely upon for a living.

But such is their distrust of government officials that most businesspeople in the informal sector avoid all contact with the authorities.

Kenyan architect and town planner Mumo Museva took me to the bustling Eastleigh area of Nairobi, where traders have created a booming economy despite the place being almost completely abandoned by the government.

Eastleigh is a filthy part of the city where rubbish lies uncollected, the potholes in the roads are the size of swimming pools, and the drains have collapsed.

Kenyan architect and town planner Mumo Musev
Africa is not poor. Africa is just poorly managed
Architect Mumo Museva

But one indication of the success of the traders, Mr Museva said, was the high per-square-foot rents there.

"You'll be surprised to note that Eastleigh is the most expensive real estate in Nairobi."

He added that if Eastleigh traders trusted the government they might pay some taxes in return for decent services, so creating a "virtuous circle".

"It would lift people out of poverty," he said.

"Remember, poverty is related to quality of life, and the quality of life here is appalling, despite the huge amount of wealth flowing through these areas."

Then the young Kenyan architect echoed the Liberian president, some 5,000km (3,000 miles) away on the other side of the continent.

"Africa is not poor," he also said.

"Africa is just poorly managed."

You can hear the first of Mark Doyle's programmes Why is Africa poor? on the BBC World Service on Monday 24 August 2009 at 0906 GMT, 1406 GMT and 1906 GMT. It will also be available on the website.



African view: Devoured by greed?

related story from

Niara notes

In our series of viewpoints from African journalists, Sola Odunfa wonders what Nigeria's banking crisis says about the country's elite.

Once again Nigeria is in the throes of a bank crisis. Rumbles of a quake have been heard and the nation is girding its loins.

The more the individual banker amasses from the bribes, the greedier he becomes

Ten banks were audited by the Central Bank of Nigeria. Only half of them got the pass mark. The others were said to have fallen far short of the prudent and transparent management required by law and by public trust.

The remaining 14 banks in the country are now being audited. How many of these will scale through?

Should half of them also require government bailouts, the entire financial industry in Nigeria may crash, taking what is left of the economy with it.

Banking laws in Nigeria are tight enough to prevent the type of crisis creeping in.

By law, no loan can be given by any bank without physical collateral and every bank must disclose its non-performing loans to the Central Bank promptly.

Moreover, no bank may give out credit above a stated percentage of its assets.

But what are laws in an environment with pervasive corruption and uncontrollable greed?

Preserve of the rich

About 10 years ago 20 banks collapsed, taking with them the future and, in some cases, the lives of many depositors.

Nigerians in a bank
The plight of Nigerian depositors is often forgotten

I do not recollect that any serious punishment was meted to the bankers. The officials who caused the crisis smiled away with their loot.

There was also the earlier saga of scores of failed finance houses when several thousand Nigerians were impoverished.

Most of the proprietors initially fled the country only to return to enjoy their loot when they considered the coast clear.

Since then banking in Nigeria has become a glamour profession. Bank executives flaunt opulence and an air of arrogance.

Having caught the corruption bug ravaging the country, they too have become as corrupt as the most corrupt politician or businessman in the land.

Hardly any customer can obtain a loan without paying a bribe, which is calculated as a percentage of the loan sought.

As for the top executives, they are the glamour superstars

The more the individual banker amasses from the bribes, the greedier he becomes and the more he closes his eyes to regulations.

With time, access to bank credit has become the preserve of the very rich who see no reason to pay back, given the percentage they had paid officials.

In Nigeria young bank managers ride the most expensive cars, they belong in the most exclusive social clubs, they live in the choicest neighbourhoods and they enrol their children in the most expensive schools.

As for the top executives, they are the glamour superstars. They move around town with long convoys of so-called security cars.

They are by far the heaviest donors to Pentecostal Churches, with attendant privileges.

Pleading innocence

Many of them travel in their own private jets and they dip into their bank's resources as if these are their personal piggy-banks. Hollywood stars would envy their lifestyle.

A church in Lagos
Churches are often constructed from donations from the congregation

For a week now three bank chief executives have been reflecting on their lives in the cells of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

One other is said to be at large and yet another is taking refuge in the United Kingdom.

All of them plead innocence.

More will surely join them from the 14 other banks being audited.

They will all have their day in court, along with debtors who cannot pay up.

Even that may not tame the greed devouring the Nigerian elite.











Zambia sacks anti-corruption head


Frederick Chiluba
Frederick Chiluba has been suffering from ill health

The head of Zambia's anti-corruption task force, Maxwell Nkole, has been removed one week after the acquittal of former President Frederick Chiluba.

Last week a judge said funds Mr Chiluba was accused of embezzling could not be traced to government money.

Afterwards, Mr Nkole went against government advice to prepare an appeal.

In contrast to late President Levy Mwanawasa, Zambia's new president, Rupiah Banda, has spoken favourably of Mr Chiluba's rule and praised him.

Mr Chiluba, who has famously extravagant tastes, handpicked Mr Mwanawasa when he stood down in 2001 after 10 years in power.

But Mr Mwanwasa almost immediately stripped him of immunity from prosecution and set up the anti-corruption task force.

Mr Banda won elections last year after Mr Mwanawasa's death.

The BBC's Musonda Chibamba in Lusaka says with the dismissal of Mr Nkole, few expect the case against Mr Chiluba to go any further.

In a separate case two years ago, the High Court in London ruled that Mr Chiluba had defrauded the Zambian government of 23m using London-based bank accounts.

Mr Chiluba refused to accept the ruling, labelling it "racist".

His wife, Regina Chiluba, was jailed in March for receiving stolen funds while her husband was in office. She is appealing against the sentence.

Go to: Causes of IQ differences among races and nations

Go to: IQ and income in US states

Go to: Success of Nations - causes besides IQ

Comments to:
Read the ongoing dialog between Sloan and viewers of this website
Web (this website, 170+ pages on IQ and Success skills)

The ads below are placed by - they are not necessarily endorsed by this site