Chapter 19Poverty in Africa since Independence

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Mark Nyandoro and Tinotenda Dube


Africa is the poorest region of the world in terms of income and material living standards. This chapter explains how poverty rates are measured and how they are made comparable over time and across countries. We distinguish trends in national and individual poverty in Africa and place these in a global comparative perspective. We explain the distinction between absolute and relative poverty and show that the total number of people living under or at the poverty line in Africa has grown since independence, while the share of poor has declined since the mid-1990s. We also discuss how rapid urbanization is shifting the poverty problem from a predominantly rural to a combined rural-urban issue. We discuss local coping strategies and international policies to alleviate poverty and present some of the major map opportunities and challenges for the future.


Nyandoro, Mark and Dube, Tinotenda (2018). “Poverty in Africa since Independence”, In Ewout Frankema, Ellen Hillbom, Ushehwedu Kufakurinani and Felix Meier zu Selhausen (eds.), The History of African Development: An Online Textbook for a New Generation of African Students and Teachers. African Economic History Network.

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