Speaking to students during his recent trip to Africa, President Obama said that “if everybody is raising living standards to the point where everybody has got a car and everybody has got air conditioning, and everybody has got a big house, well, the planet will boil over—unless we find new ways of producing energy.”
As Heritage has reported, those “new ways of producing energy” are costly, insufficient, and very likely in the distant future—out of reach today for citizens in a region of the world with the lowest average score in the Heritage/Wall Street Journal Index of Economic Freedom. Gaps between sub-Saharan Africa’s freedom scores and some world averages are particularly large—more than 10 points in property rights, corruption, and business freedom.
In the absence of conditions that foster economic growth—rule of law, abundant and cheap energy, vibrant free-market democracy, and private-sector-led trade and investment—what are those students to do? Must young Africans remain dependent on statist and corrupt governments—watching from the sidelines as they make deals with countries such as China simply to extract their resources and leave them poor?