The Humanist Café
Wednesday, November 15, 7:00 to 8:30 pm
James Bay New Horizons
234 Menzies Street James Bay


The Causes and Possible Cures for Poverty In Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA)

The duplicity of well-intended aid efforts while Canada and others encourage resource extraction, tax evasion, and subsidies

Presenter: Colin Nelson
Moderator: John Pope

I have spent about 18 months in Tanzania as an ophthalmologist and latterly as a concerned tourist.  I have formed some opinions about the causes and possible cures of SSA poverty and would like to discuss these ideas with you. I would like to describe my conclusions and looks forward to your input and corrections if you don’t agree and reassurances if you concur.

Martin Luther King said “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Inequities in the world lead to desperate actions affecting millions.  Perceived inequality and hopelessness in the developing world spills over to affect us in the privileged developed world as terrorism and refugee crises. We are all affected by these problems and need to find a solution.

Under the United Nations Organization and its associated organizations many improvements have been seen; Smallpox, and some tropical diseases have been eliminated, Polio is almost eliminated, HIV and AIDS have been reduced and some of the Millennium Development Goals have been partially achieved.

The BRICS countries are thriving, and even countries in SSA such as Tanzania have been posting 6% per annum growth, though recently 1.5%.  But there is marked inequity within many countries, so that as the rich get richer the poor get poorer.  70% of the population in Tanzania still live on 2$/day or less.

In spite of official development aid, private development aid and remittance payments (from immigrants) going into SSA, loans and assistance from World Bank and International Monetary Fund, and the efforts of Non-Governmental Organizations such as Oxfam, Plan Canada, Care Canada, Gates Foundation etc, and the efforts of many smaller private individuals and microfinance lending organizations such as Kiva and Oikocredit,  and foreign direct investment from EEC, USA, UK, and China, poverty and injustice persists.

I suggest that the fundamental original cause of poverty in SSA was slavery and later colonialism. The present continuing cause is neocolonialism in its various forms, convolved with corruption of both donor and recipient nations.

What do you think?


1 Description of Haiti’s “unjust enrichment” debt owed by France,%20France%20and%20the%20Independence%20Debt%20of%201825_0.pdf

2 Prevalence of hunger in SSA

3  Interesting documentary video describing copper extraction and tax evasion in Zambia

4 Problems with international development

5 Description of funds going into and coming out of Africa

6 The hypocrisy of Canadian ownership in Africa

7 Award winning video describing US subsidization of peanuts to detriment of African farmers

See you there!  Bring a thought or two.