George Ayittey, the relentless critic of bad leadership, disagrees with the Ambassador:
I think the Swedish Ambassador was more interested in protecting his job. Obviously, the Ambassador is not going to say that things are not going well in Africa because it mean the BILLIONS of dollars Sweden pumped into Africa went to waste and the Ambassador was not doing a good job.
Here are some more sober assessment of Africa's prognosis:
WORLD BANK: "Sub-Saharan Africa enters the new century with many of the world's poorest countries. Average income per capita is lower than at the end of the 1960s. Incomes, assets, and access to essential services are unequally distributed. And the region contains a growing share of
the world's absolute poor, who have little power to influence the allocation of resources.
Moreover, many of the development problems have become largely confined to Africa. They include lagging primary school enrolments, high child mortality, and endemic diseases - including malaria and HIV/AIDS - that impose costs on Africa at least twice those in any other developing
region. One African in five lives in countries severely disrupted by conflict. Making matters worse, Africa's place in the global economy has been eroded, with declining export shares in traditional primary products, little diversification into new lines of business, and massive
capital flight and loss of skills to other regions. Now the region stands in danger of being excluded from the information revolution" (World Bank, 2000a; p.1).
The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development's (UNCTAD) Report, Least Developed Countries, 2002, noted that both the extent and depth of poverty have increased dramatically in Sub-Saharan Africa: "The proportion of people in 29 African countries living below $2 per day
increased from 82 percent in the late 1960s to 87.5 percent in the late 1990s. For those in extreme poverty - under $1 per day - the increase was from 55.8 per cent to 64.9 percent. The number of African living in extreme poverty rose dramatically from 89.6 million to 233.5 million
over the same period" (Africa Recovery, Sept 2002; p.9). The Report noted that, not only is poverty widening in Africa but it is also becoming more severe.
On July 8, 2003, the UN issued a stern warning about worsening economic and social conditions in black Africa, just as U.S. President George W. Bush began a five-day tour of the continent. In its Human Development Report (2003), the UNDP warned that:
"Unless things improve it will take sub-Saharan Africa until 2129 to achieve universal primary education, until 2147 to halve extreme poverty and until 2165 to cut child mortality by two thirds. For hunger no date can be set because the region's situation continues to worsen.
(Financial Times, July 9, 2003; p.1)
The reported noted that while most of the world's economies expanded in the 1990s, people in 54 developing countries had become poorer; the majority of these countries was in Africa.
The number of poor in Africa, defined as those making less than a dollar a day, has increased sharply in both relative and absolute terms. The absolute number of poor in Africa has grown five times more than the figure for Latin America, and twice that for South Asia. For example in
1995, the population of Africa was estimated to be 580 million. Of these,
* 291 million people had average incomes of below one dollar a day in 1998;
* 124 million of those up to age 39 years were at risk of dying before 40;
" 43 million children were stunted as a result of malnutrition in 1995;
* 205 million were estimated to be without access to health services in
* 249 million were without safe drinking water in 1990-95;
* More than 2 million infants die annually before their first birthday
(World Bank, 2001; p.xiii).
Obviously, the Swedish Ambassador didn't see these reports.