The Role of Crafts and Small Enterprises in fighting against Poverty and Hunger in Africa

Shawgei Salah Ahmed

The issues of poverty and hunger in Africa are complex with intertwining factors. Many thinkers have tried to find solutions that fit the current situation on the African continent.

Collective ownership is the defining feature of the economy; this experience has been accompanied by some successes and many failures due to the absence of many factors, such as absence of the principle of accountability for dictatorships in which wealth and power accumulated after the independence of most African countries in the fifties and early sixties.

This was followed by a rapid transformation of the capitalist model, entry of transcontinental companies and the consequent excessive consumption of the wealth of African peoples by these companies in exchange for providing protection to the existing authorities.

 Some silver linings emerged here and there, but there are no signs of deep development in African society due to the accumulation of wealth.

In a class, the rulers’ antiques revolve around their orbit and provide them with all means of comfort, and Amin says to all the ruler’s calls away from the crushed majority of the common people on the continent, this approach continued in the eighties and early nineties of the last century.

After the passage of the first decade of 21th century, a rising force of African minds emerged, working to establish a true and profound renaissance for the African continent.

They began to ask the courageous questions that touch the core of the issue, and with the passage of time, this vanguard took control of decision-making, and thus theories of development emerged.

With the help of theorists from the United Nations, the Centennial Development Goals (MDG) for the year 2015 were applied, then the updated version of these goals followed; what is commonly known as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for the year 2030.

 Their theoretical work is still continuing to this day.

The reality of poverty in the African continent

In general, there is a big problem when mapping poverty in Africa.

This problem is represented in the decrease in poverty rates in the reports, plans and development programs by governments and international institutions, during the same that one finds a significant increase in the number of poor.

 The number of poor people in Africa has only decreased by 4 million between 2012 and 2013, with the poverty rate in 2013 being 1.6%, less than in 2012.

 still, the poverty rate in Africa was very high, registering 41% in 2013.

The reason, the author believes, lies in the failure to include these increasing human masses as part of the solution, not part of the problem. This can be done through taking advantage of the increase in population to produce armies of trained skilled workers that can be used after establishing projects that absorb them, disregarding concerns over how to provide them with subsidies.

Poverty and Hunger Syndrome                             

What complicates the issue is the presence of the same gloomy picture in the reports and figures issued by state institutions on the state of hunger, where there is a close correlation between hunger and poverty.

Despite the low rates of hunger, the general situation has not stagnated.

Hunger has increased by 7% since 2000. However, the number of undernourished people in that region increased by 16 million, totaling 218 million; reflecting the high population growth rate in the region.

From this standpoint, one can find that the problem lies in treating the symptoms and not searching for a cure for diseases.

It is not required to spend millions of dollars on family planning methods, reducing births, and birth control. The infrastructure is ripe for development and the search for effective mechanisms to preserve the environment.

 The most important thing is to adhere to a clearly defined development plan for all members of society.

The role of handicrafts and small enterprises in combating poverty

The natural and mineral resources, in accordance with the requirements of the times, are an effective and basic weapon to enter the battle of development.

Africa possesses this weapon, and observers believe that African countries have no choice but to invest in these materials at home, and not to allow their depletion and the emptying of the continent from it.

Africa needs to seriously stop facing this dilemma and search for practical solutions that protect this wealth and make it a strong pressure card in the hands of Africans, as Africa can benefit from its natural wealth greatly and work to change its future by providing human, material and technical capabilities and capabilities to exploit them optimally according to a common and complementary African strategy.

 Among these solutions is supporting handicraft occupations and small enterprises that use these resources in order to create industries that employ workforces and exports handicrafts as products rather than raw materials.

Craftsmanship is a mechanism to fight poverty

The African continent is in dire need to develop the craft sector in order to achieve great goals such as benefitting from the great natural resources at home, employing human forces, reducing poverty rates, employing the population with middle education, reducing unemployment, and sending workers abroad.

Africa’s huge mineral resources are almost neglected, and industrialization contributes only a very small percentage to the African economy.

 Most of these resources are exported abroad as raw materials and at low prices, and most African governments have not translated the export revenues and economic growth achieved by crude oil, gas, and other natural resources into reducing poverty, achieving more prosperity, and improving health and educational services.

Small enterprises oriented to production and the fight against hunger

These projects are called small due to the limited initial funding and the number of their employees, but most economists unanimously agree on the importance of investing in small projects, because most of the economic growth and prosperity reached by developed countries would not have been achieved without the effective contribution of small enterprises.

They are still an effective development tool that creates millions of job opportunities, increases the existing production capacity, creates new production capacity, raises labor productivity and raises the standard of living for its owners and workers, as well as increases the export capacity of the economy as a whole.

This is reflected in growth rates in the gross domestic product (GDP), the balance of payments, and the developmental and geographical balance, which is reflected in the most prominent economic indicators of those developed countries.

With the presence of all these preferential advantages for small enterprises, it is imperative for African economists to adopt accelerated policies towards empowering this sector of the local African economy.

If the African leaders reach to allocate a percentage of the export of raw materials in support of the craft profession, which depends on the same raw materials in the manufacture of its products, and work to expand the circle of participation by introducing new workers in this area with the preparation and thoughtful plans, then after a period of time this sector will be strengthened.

Therefore, African countries will not have a case to export raw materials in the future, by manufacturing them internally, and this will be reflected in reducing poverty levels in a highly efficient manner.

In the end, the big problem is the so-called “cowardice of economic thought” for most of the decision-makers in Africa.

What is meant by that is fear of creating and adopting policies stemming from the real need of African societies for development and poverty elimination.

These development policies are often in a state of collision with many, including:

The beneficiaries from the current situation, such as the colonial authorities, the deep state that does not change with the change of rulers, the bodies associated with the big companies, and many others.

Shawgei Salah is a researcher, writer, environmentalist and a member of the Young African Leaders Summit (YALS). He can be contacted at

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