Poverty in Africa

F. Becker, E.H.P. Frankema

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review


Africa is the poorest region of the world at present. Even though the share of extremely poor in the total African population has been on the decline since the early 1990s, the decrease has been slower than elsewhere and poverty levels have remained higher than in other developing regions. This chapter introduces some of the comparative dimensions of poverty in Africa in an extended timeframe. It identifies distinctive dynamics that underpin the salience of poverty in Africa. These include the recent and on-going emergence of landlessness as a cause of poverty in the countryside, exacerbated by the fact that the land-poor also tend to be resource-poor. This problem is aggravated by stalling industrialization in urban areas that throws the newly urbanized into survival-level informal-sector work. The chapter also scrutinizes the contemporary discourse on African poverty, to argue that historically informed narratives can do much to bring the changing nature of African poverty to light. Rejecting monocausal explanations, it shows that Africa has not always been the world’s basket case, nor that it is destined to retain its current status as such.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRoutledge International Handbook of Poverty
EditorsB. Greve
Place of PublicationLondon
ISBN (Electronic)9780429058103
ISBN (Print)9780367178666
Publication statusPublished - 2019


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