To put it as bluntly as possible, Chad is the 8th poorest country in the world. This is after 54 years of independence from their colonizers France who relinquished their grip on the country in 1964. However the country soon found itself drowning in a civil war that lasted 20 years. As the situation stands Chad only has no functional railway, about only 600 kilometers of paved road(which makes it difficult to get goods out and across the country), only 33% of the population is literate, one of the lowest mobile phone penetration percentages in the whole of Africa let alone the world; the situation is serious. Many people blame the condition of the country on the leadership and the ‘big brother’ that is France. Frankly speaking, the country does not have stable leadership – anyone who opposes the government is often disappeared or found dead.
Although the situation is not as bad as it seems, the oil industry can give the country hope. In 2004 the World Bank funded massive infrastructure projects to assist and facilitate oil extraction. For a time, this enabled the national government to export the in-demand commodity but because of the conditions set by World Bank (80% of the oil revenue’s had to be spent on development projects) this did not last very long. The whole idea behind the conditions was to ensure that the people on the ground – the majority of the impoverished population- get a piece of the pie. Due to all the rebellions that the President has had to fight off these funds were instead diverted to the military causing World Bank to stop funding. 80% of the population ironically do not rely on oil exports for a livelihood. Their income is sourced from agriculture and low scale farming that takes place literally wherever there is arable land. This has a good and bad aspect to it; although it encourages the entrepreneurial spirit within the country it also requires a lot of labor which ultimately leads to people choosing farming over education.
As bleak as the picture may appear, all hope is not lost. I personally believe that the only way a country can empower their people is by providing electricity and a functional transport system. This will enable them to be able to manufacture their goods and to expand their markets to faraway lands without it being too expensive to be non-viable. This is why there is hope for Chad. The new fairy Godmother of Africa, China has come in and has promised to build the country’s first railway as well as building oil refineries all over the country to elevate the country to producer of petroleum status as opposed to exporting plain old crude oil. This will help provide employment and a stable income for the locals who can then divert that income to their farming products. Windiga, a Canadian energy firm has also stepped in, in agreement with the government, to provide a 20 megawatt solar power plant in the country which will help light up Chad.
Photo Credits: Jewish World Watch, Getty Images