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Reflections on the GDP growth / quality of life paradox in Africa.

I’m attending the TEDxEuston Salon on the 6th April, and I have no doubt it will be an opportunity to share ideas on the quality of life paradox in Africa. IMF forecasts indicate African countries will be seven of the top ten growing economies in the next five years.
That said, Africa posts only two entries in the top 100 countries’ quality of life assessment by Numbeo in 2012. In truth, Africa’s economic growth is accompanied by unequal wealth distribution, natural resource depletion, unemployment, insecurity and lack of infrastructure.
So what tool can be used to translate the continent’s economic growth into enhanced quality of life for its over 680 million inhabitants and indeed, the African Diaspora? My belief is that ‘local content’ development can help. An example of this is a program I’m involved with, along with UK Trade & Investment, which aims at fostering partnerships between Nigerian and UK companies.
Let me use the story of a young Nigerian I met recently through the program to illustrate my point. Evans left Nigeria for the UK about 13 years ago due to unemployment and dearth of opportunity. Whilst in the UK, he acquired his Masters and Doctorate degrees and subsequently secured a good job with one of the international oil and gas service companies in Aberdeen. Last year one of the International Oil Companies (IOCs) in Nigeria experienced an equipment failure. The equipment had to be shipped to Aberdeen for repair. It ended up being Evans who fixed it. Of course, the cost of this included freight and labour amounts which would have been avoided if the work if the work had been done locally.
How much better would it be if skills gained by individuals like Evans could be harnessed to create opportunities that indigenous companies can then venture into? It would be great to have a conversation on possibilities for translating the continent’s economic growth into better quality of life.

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    • Apr 10 2013: I completely agree with Grace.

      Just about every developed country in the world is practically bankrupt due to the creation of fiat currency.

      Bhutan is apparently one of the happiest nations in the world. Their main concerns are community and sustainability, not GDP.
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    Apr 9 2013: Hello Igo Weli, nice to meet you! :D
    Yes I do believe that quality of life (happiness, purpose in life...) matter more than how much money you have. (Which doesn't necessarily guarantee happiness anyway! Look up : Shawn Achor: The happy secret to better work
    (Link : http://www.ted.com/talks/shawn_achor_the_happy_secret_to_better_work.html) )There are many more TED Talk related to this topic, how more "choice" (the irony is that we don't even know what "makes us happy") and "getting what you want", doesn't guarantee happiness.
    Good Luck! I hope I have been of some assistance! (And didn't get too-side tracked there!)
    EDIT : Your TED Talk would make a very interesting topic!
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    Apr 9 2013: "Africa’s economic growth is accompanied by unequal wealth distribution, natural resource depletion, unemployment, insecurity and lack of infrastructure."

    i don't say that the conclusion is completely off base, but i feel it is hinted in the text that this would be the solution to the paradox of high growth and low standard of living. this is a notion that comes up all too often. why it is the case that in country X, the economics indicators show all good things, yet poverty is rampant. and this is troublesome that it comes up often, because it is often followed by wild speculations on the reasons. the truth is much simpler.

    any economic growth, no matter how unequal, leads to a rise in life standards for the masses. true, growth can be accompanied by all sort of ugly things, which hinders progress, or hurts people. but if such obstacles are really serious, sooner or later they stop growth altogether. steady progress sooner or later benefits everyone.

    there is a very easy explanation why can a country has high growth and low life standards. as a simple math homework, try to compute the following. suppose there is a country with 500 dollar per year per capita income. suppose there is a steady growth of 7% a year. how many years it takes to reach 50000 dollars per year?

    the real danger here is to abandon current economic policies based on their "failure" to bring prosperity (i.e. 50000 income), while actually the policy was successful (i.e. 7%).
  • Apr 6 2013: Good Luck Jonathan! Godspeed! I am an American - Only Africans can solve their problems unlike Americans who aren't doing a good job with theirs. Fortunately, we had a better start before these new problems. All the best, but people have to work together, and I hope the more fortunate will help those who reallly try.