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Case Study: Switched Off Africa

Updated on December 31, 2012

Switched on and Switched Off.

The world is split into two halves, the brant line (the north south divide), the core and the periphery. The core or 'the north' is the MEDCs, the rich, developed countries. Then the is the south the 'periphery' the LDCs the least economically developed countries, and often the countries the core exploits.

Countries that are economically developed and have global influence are often called switched on.

Those that aren't switched off. Africa particularly sub Saharan Africa is seen as switched off.

How do we decide what is switched on and switched off?

One way of categorising countries is a HDI score.

This is the Human Development Index

It takes into account many variables and produces a number, 1 being the highest of Human Development.

Some of the Variables include:

Gross National Product Per Capita - The total amount of money earned by the country per year. Divided by the amount of people to produce a theoretical 'salary' per person in the country per year. This however not show inequalities within the country.

Birth Rate - The number of births per 1000 people per year.

Death Rate - The number of deaths per 100 people per year.

Adult Literacy - The percentage of adults who can read and write.

Life Expectancy - The average age reached in years.

Infant Mortality Rate - The number of deaths before the age of 1 per 1000 live births per year.

Employment - The percentage of people in employment, and the percentage employed in the primary, secondary, tertiary and quaternary sectors.

Health Care - Doctors per 100,000 people

However the HDI index is a measure per county and as Africa is a continent, it is too big to develop a HDI for however it has some of the lowest HDI scores. Africa has the bottom 25 ranked countries.

Why is Africa Switched Off?

There are several factors that lead to Africa remaining an LEDC:

The Spread of Diseases

Because of Africa's low economic growth and corrupt governments little money is put into health care or the prevention of disease. The biggest killer in Africa is Malaria, although there are an estimated 22.9 million people in Sub Saharan Africa living with HIV in 2010. Both diseases are utterly devastating and contribute toward the cycle of poverty as many cannot work when they become ill and then cannot grow enough food to eat or earn enough to buy food.

Corrupt Governments

Corrupt governments do not spend tax on improving the country, it's economy, infrastructure. Therefore the country does not benefit or improve.

Lack of Infrastructure

Lack of spending upon infrastructure has led to many places remaining isolated, this often means the place is not seen as desirable for investment, and the economy does not grow.


Again conflict is another reason that companies do not invest in an area and therefore the area remains with low economic activity.

Lack of Education

A lack of education means the poverty cycle cannot be broken as the population remains uneducated and therefore not qualified for skilled jobs.

Low economic Growth Rate

This links into many of the other factors, but as the growth of Africa's economy is only 5% per year the area is not seen as a good area for investment.

Rostow's Stages of Growth


Many of the reasons that Africa remains an LEDC links into one another. This is because for Africa to develop the cycle of poverty must be broken.

There are two main drivers to breaking the poverty cycle as outlined in Rostow's stages of growth. Personal savings, if each person saves in a bank this gives the bank more money to use as capital. And investment, from the government and non-governmental organisations like charities and of course businesses. This drives the multiplier effect, this is where small investment into an area causes a 'snowball effect' which leads to improved lifestyles and environment. As wages increase more money is paid in tax, and individually people move towards improving their lives e.g. inside toilets. t.v's etc.


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