Are Africa’s wealth­i­est do­ing enough to help the con­ti­nent?

The Africa Report - - THE QUESTION -

Africa’s rich­est give an es­ti­mated Us$7bn ev­ery year to char­ity, says a 2014 re­port by the African Grant­mak­ers Net­work; but the fig­ures also hint that giv­ing is un­bal­anced among those who can af­ford to make a dif­fer­ence.


The phi­lan­thropy sec­tor in Africa is still at an early stage in its evo­lu­tion. How­ever, there are no­table ex­cep­tions. One of the strong­est col­lab­o­ra­tions for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foun­da­tion in Africa is the Dan­gote Foun­da­tion in Nige­ria. It is one of the few in­volved in struc­tured phi­lan­thropy, and Al­haji Aliko Dan­gote’s and Bill Gates’ views are aligned on a num­ber of is­sues. Dan­gote has worked very closely with us in en­sur­ing that po­lio is erad­i­cated from Nige­ria and if this re­mark­able progress is sus­tained Nige­ria will be on its way to be­ing de­clared po­lio-free. It is a sig­nif­i­cant mile­stone in our ef­forts to erad­i­cate the dis­ease [world­wide], and the Dan­gote Foun­da­tion has played an in­trin­sic role in this. Our re­la­tion­ship has also ex­tended to strength­en­ing rou­tine im­mu­ni­sa­tion in states where child­hood im­mu­ni­sa­tion cov­er­age is very low. More re­cently, we have been ex­plor­ing ways to deal with mal­nu­tri­tion in north­ern Nige­ria. The [Gates] Foun­da­tion wants to broaden its part­ner­ships in Africa and that in­cludes work­ing with more African-based foun­da­tions through whom we can un­lock do­mes­tic re­sources to help lift more peo­ple out of poverty.


It is good news that peo­ple in this con­ti­nent are es­tab­lish­ing busi­nesses, launch­ing tech­nolo­gies, and run­ning multi­na­tional cor­po­ra­tions. But Africa’s wealth­i­est are not do­ing enough. The global in­equal­ity cri­sis has taken root in Africa, as it has done across the world. The World Bank re­cently found that the 10 rich­est Africans own the same as the poor­est half of the con­ti­nent – that’s over half a bil­lion peo­ple. The ‘Africa Ris­ing’ nar­ra­tive begs the ques­tion: Ris­ing for who? Wealth cre­ators in Africa must work with gov­ern­ments to build economies that pro­vide de­cent jobs for young peo­ple. Job cre­ation will be the chal­lenge as we see in­creas­ing for­eign in­vest­ment into African economies and man­age wealth com­ing from nat­u­ral re­sources. But they must also re­ward hard work with de­cent pay. In South Africa, a plat­inum miner would need to work for 93 years just to earn the av­er­age CEO’S an­nual bonus. The wealthy must also take re­spon­si­bil­ity for in­vest­ing in fair and co­he­sive so­ci­eties. Too of­ten their ac­cess to global mar­kets and fi­nan­cial sys­tems is used to avoid pay­ing a fair share of tax. And fi­nally we need to break the cor­ro­sive cir­cu­lar re­la­tion­ship be­tween wealth and power that un­der­mines our pol­i­tics. It is wrong that in Africa so many lead­ers use their gov­ern­ment po­si­tions to amass great per­sonal wealth, and in turn that the wealthy have such un­due in­flu­ence on gov­ern­ments across the con­ti­nent.


Africa team direc­tor, Bill & Melinda Gates Foun­da­tion


Ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor, Ox­fam In­ter­na­tional

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