Africa lags behind most of the world in practically all indicators of human well-being, including longevity, infant mortality, HIV, malaria and tuberculosis occurrence, nourishment, school enrolment, long-term economic growth, and income per capita. The ability of the United States to help Africa is limited because most of Africa’s development problems are caused by domestic factors requiring domestic solutions. Those problems are extensive and have been aggravated by arbitrary and authoritarian rule, which has been the norm for most of Africa’s independence. Centralized political control has undermined political stability, the rule of law, the security of individuals, the protection of private property, and growth.

As long as its economic freedom remains low, Africa’s economic performance will continue to disappoint. Similarly, African countries are unlikely to escape poverty as long as their governments remain unaccountable and their actions arbitrary. Unfortunately, there is little the United States can do to positively influence the evolution of Africa’s governing institutions and the policies that African countries adopt.