Africa has been in the news for many years now when it comes to global poverty. The continent has been the topic of disease, poverty and famine since the early 1990s. Remember when Michael Jackson, Billy Joel, Tina Turner and many others came together to sing “We are the World” to raise money for Africa back in 1985? Here are 7 myths and misconceptions about Africa.
7 Myths and Misconceptions About Africa
- Africa’s population is dying off: This is a common misconception. Africa has actually had a growing population throughout the years. Africa’s population is estimated to hit just shy of 2 billion people in the next decade. African countries like Egypt and Ethiopia have populations close to 100 million. Nigeria has a population of over 180 million.
- Africa is only getting worse: While certain countries in Africa are impoverished, not all countries have been on the decline. Benin’s GDP per capita has been increasing over the past five years, going from $1,000 per capita in 2015 to $1,200 per capita in 2018. Botswana’s GDP also increased since 2015 and has a higher GDP per capita than the whole of Sub-Saharan Africa.
- Inequality in Africa is at an all-time high: The Gini coefficient is a measurement of income inequality using frequency distribution. It uses a scale of 0 to 100, with 0 being total income equality. There are countries in Africa that have a lower Gini coefficient than the United States. The United States has a Gini coefficient of 41, while Egypt has a Gini of 31.5. Other countries with a lower Gini include Ethiopia at 35, Morocco at 39.5, and Mali at 33. All of these countries have greater income equality than the United States.
- Education in Africa is non-existent: Although it is true that education is not the best in Africa, progress has been made throughout the years. The literacy rate for ages 15-24 has been increasing since 2008. While the number of qualified elementary teachers was on a decline starting in 2012, their number actually increased between 2016 and 2017, when the last data was taken.
- Africa has no major cities, only land: This happens to be one of the biggest misconceptions about Africa. Africa is home to the city of Cape Town, which is one of the most highly visited places in South Africa. Other major and commonly known cities in Africa include Cairo and Lagos. As one of the fastest-growing continents, Africa is urbanizing at nearly 4% every year along with a growing population.
- Africa is a dangerous place to visit: Since the Ebola outbreak in 2014, Africa has not been seen as a huge tourist destination for many people. However, cities like Cairo and Cape Town have been major tourist destinations. Between 2016 and 2017, international tourism in Africa increased by over 10%. Countries such as Nigeria and Sierra Leone exceeding 50% of arrivals in 2015.
- Africa has little to no technology: This is a common misconception about Africa, but it is actually the most untrue. South Africa was ranked in the top 20 in the world as one of the biggest financial hubs. Egypt is also considered to be a forerunner in digital media and technology with some of the highest graduating rates.
Africa is one of the largest continents in the world and one of the most misunderstood. Even though there is a lot of improvement that still needs to be done, it is safe to say that Africa isn’t only the version shown on TV. Africa has been industrializing and developing over time. The continent has a growing tech base, major city attractions and an increasing GDP. With more international aid, real change is possible.
– Hena Pejdah