More than a decade has passed since that assessment, and little has changed to suggest a more optimistic outlook. Now Ebola threatens the very existence of the West African nations Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. Moreover, the deadly disease is likely to spread to neighboring nations.
Each year, The Wall Street Journal and The Heritage Foundation publish an "Index of Economic Freedom," which measures economic liberty around the world. Mauritius is the only one of the 48 countries in sub-Saharan Africa to rank among the 10 freest economies in the world. Botswana is the second-freest African country, followed by Cape Verde. South Africa used to be near the top but has since declined. Of the other sub-Saharan countries, 11 are rated as "repressed" and 26 are "mostly unfree." Eight of the world's 20 least free economies are in Africa's sub-Saharan region.
Poverty is not a cause but a result of Africa's problems. What African countries need the West cannot provide. They need personal liberty. That means a political system in which there are guarantees of private property rights, free markets, honest government and the rule of law. Africa's poverty is, for the most part, self-inflicted. Some people might disagree because their college professors taught them that the legacy of colonialism explains Third World poverty. That's nonsense. Canada was a colony. So were Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong. In fact, the richest country in the world, the United States, was once a colony. By contrast, Third World countries such as Ethiopia, Liberia, Nepal and Bhutan were never colonies, yet they are home to some of the world's poorest people.