On Poverty: None of us can truly rest

“As long as poverty, injustice, gross inequality persists in our world, none of us can truly rest” Nelson Mandela.

China Global Television Network (CGTN) in cooperation with South Africa Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) hosted for the first time a special program on poverty, with particular focus on the comparisons of poverty eradication between China and Africa. I was honored to be part of the panel, together with other four speakers, and hosts Liu Xin and Lian. China is making a major media push to discuss poverty, and more similar shows will follow. Full link of the this show can be found here

Five guests from both China and South Africa introduced their stories, how they experienced poverty themselves and how they managed to rise above it. A moving sequence that set the scene for this very first type of show on “The Point”.

Poverty remains where education levels are low and South Africa is trying to push for it, with 20% of its budget being devoted to education. Progress is made, but solutions cannot be obtained in one single generation. But putting the cash is necessary, but not enough. Education needs to be of good quality and inclusive, we need to find ways to force children to attend school, even giving cash to families, just like Brazil tried before. Is money going to the right people?

Global poverty stays at 770 million concentrated in Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, with China having made immense progress, reducing poverty by 800mn since 1978; numbers may vary depending on the definition of poverty line, but the concept holds.

My main contribution to the discussion was that poverty reduction can be achieved when there is a strong government that implements the programs, but also population control. The ideas that the more people, the higher is the economic growth fails to recognize the fact that while GDP may indeed grow, GDP per capita may go down.

Demographic control is not the only and ultimate answer, but when population grows fast, it makes it harder for policies to work. While this maybe a controversial point and other economics may disagree, I remind that population in Africa has doubled and the number of poor people has increased by 400mn, in China population has been managed and poverty has gone down by 800mn.

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