Africa is not a subject that's at the top of my thoughts very frequently, so let me summarize most of what I want to say about the continent in a single post.
The great country of Zimbabwe just divided by zero
. That's right, the stores are all empty so they can't even define inflation any more. I'm sure history is going to put Robert Mugabe up there with Hitler, Stalin and Idi Amin.
The main problem with Africa is petty dictators. Don't take my word for it -- a Ghanaian economist argues passionately for this view in this video
. One phrase in particular is worth quoting -- "Africa's begging bowl leaks
" referring to the futility of conventional foreign aid because of government corruption. He also explains how Africa's traditional societies were free markets, even if not industrialized, and what Africa needs is more capitalism, not less
While he didn't talk about it, I'm sure he'd agree that by far the best way for individuals to help Africa is microcredit
. One of the things I hate about google reader is that it indexes posts immediately and if you make changes they don't show up. The link to the talk pointed to the wrong video originally, sorry about that.