Africa- does size really matter

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Some African countries  are too small too compete economically that is according to Sudanese born Mo Ibrahim

Africa- map from

But does he have a point?  Will the reunion of Africa in economic terms be the answer to poverty and hunger?

When I was a young girl we had the East African community,  the adults at the time say the community was very good for economic growth and education, students   from within the community could apply to and attend any University within the community.

I am not quite sure why the community broke up but word is some external forces were threatened by its success, so it had to go! Really, I sincerely don’t know, but this as a reason sounds far fetched!

Interesting though I read a book called  WARS GUNS AND VOTES DEMOCRACY IN DANGEROUS PLACES by Paul Collier and he makes a similar point but as it relates to public goods provision.

My question, if size does mater in terms of public goods provision and economic growth,  Luxembourg must be one of the smallest countries  out there but  why aren’t  her citizens  dying of hunger or living in abject poverty.

New economic communities are emerging in Africa SADC, COMESA even the East African community has been given a new lease of life and has new member countries. Is this the futre for Africa? Will these organisations offer and deliver member states and their citizines new hope. How much clout do they have in terms negotiating on international stages?

Would like to hear from you if you an opinion on any of the issues  raised here

Post Preivously published at Ethnic Supplies



Managing Director at Ethnic Supplies
Ida is the curator of AFRICA ON THE BLOG  and founder of Ethnic Supplies a social enterprise working to alleviate poverty amongst East African women involved in textile and handicraft production. She is the Chair person of a community regeneration charity LET THEM HELP THEMSELVES OUT OF POVERTY. Get in touch @idahorner


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  1. says

    Development should not at ll depend on the size. If you have resources, any person can make it to development. And this is not just in terms of natural resources but also in terms of the man power. Egypt, is more food secure than a country such as Kenya yet the amount of rainfall received between the two countries would disqualify Egypt as a food producer. Even placing the issue of the Nile there still does not qualify it if we were to look at the water issues. But by utilising the little that they have, Egypt are where they are. Potential within the people and believing in themselves matters much more than just the size of the country.

  2. Christopher Ejugbo says

    It is not the size of the individual countries that matter. It is rather the kind on bondings that exist between neighbours based on mutual benefit. It is true that there is a limit to what you can do as a small country, however if well positioned you will be able to trade with any supersized country on the basis of market forces. As a result of enlargement we see the success of loose federations like the United States, European Union an Russia. The smaller countries succeed not because they can produce all that they need but because they find their unique sellig point and make themselves a force to be reckoned with.

    Free movement of people either for trade or education is beneficial to all countries big or small. You do not have to give up your sovereignty in order to achieve this. Having lived in and observed the tiny republics in Europe such as Latvia and Estonia, I know this to be true.
    My conclusion is that size matters but it has nothing to do with a nation state.

  3. Anonymous says

    I would agree that it is not necessarily about size, as Paul argues in his book, having good neighbours is essential too. Good neighbours are especially important to landlocked countries in terms of accessing overseas markets. The economic and political stability of the neighbours as well as their ability to consume the smaller country’s goods will all have an impact

  4. Anonymous says

    Yes, the Egyptian situation is rather interesting and the one thing that sets them apart is the perceived political stability by inward investors which boots tourism and trade. And of course whole chunks of the desert are now set aside for growing food for the European markets especially potatoes, Egypt’s geo political positioning close to Europe works in its favor at so many fronts when compared to Kenya or Uganda for instance

  5. Sadia says

    Africa has some very small countries with immense resources which if harnessed well would put them at a great advantage. So not about size.

    • Hope says

      Size doesn’t matter to develop, I hope is going to arise in near future. We have always focused on bad things about Africa. But if we change our mind towards africa and focus on what is good surely Africa is going to shine. Developing it is not an end it is a journey if others have done it why not we as africa. Why not

      • Anonymous says

        I agree with you entirely and the first point stop in achieving development is unity amongst Africans and that too begins with conversations such as the one we are having through this blogs

  6. says

    At the cost of repeating what ‘s already been said: Size only becomes an issue when not used efficiently or appropriately. The efficacy of how size is used is what determines its impact and its eventuality on whether it matters or not. When we harnes demographic consesus that can be regulated and accounted for in order to bind leaders or a given organisation; country or people, only then can we reap from rewards that benefit the population at large.

  7. Anonymous says

    Leaders take up positions that come with responsibilities and obligations and sadly it would appear that some of them leave all these at the door when they take up office. Where such leaders rule by the gun, the ordinary citizen finds it near impossible to take them to task and demand what is rightfully theirs

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