The incidence of civil war has been seen in all regions of the world from ancient times well into modernity. Fortunately, for most areas of the world, civil war has become a declining trend in recent history, but in Africa, this trend seems to have been upwards. Why has civil war continued to prevail in Africa in an increasingly passive and democratic world? Paul Collier, Professor of Economics and Director of the Centre for the Study of African Economies at Oxford University asks, “Of course, every civil war has its story – the personalities, the social cleavages, the triggering events, the inflammatory discourse, the atrocities. But is there anything more? Are there structural conditions – social, political, or economic – which make a country prone to civil war” (Collier, 1). Is it possible that Africa may be different in respect of civil war? To better understand, we must dive into a comparative case, using the success of Botswana and the failure of Sierra Leone. Looking at the histories, economies, and political atmosphere of each country, we can better understand reasons behind these all to often, terrible civil wars. I would first like to disclaim that the cases presented in this paper are the sole reasons behind civil war. There are many factors that play into civil wars, and to say there is one single reason behind a civil war would be inconclusive. I am only presenting one possible explanation of the matter at hand.
What I have found through my research of Sierra Leone and Botswana is that the dominant factors behind civil war are economic. In a review of the literature, Paul Collier asserts that there are three factors that matter a lot for the risk of civil war: the level of income, a country’s rate of growth, and its structure (1). Poor countries that tend to rely upon natural resource exports are often times unstable and face a risk of civil war. These countries experience internal discontent and while the media focuses on this, the personalities, and triggering events, the fact is that “civil war is heavily concentrated in countries with low income, in economic decline and dependant upon natural resources” (Collier, 2). The economic characteristics of the region play deeply into the incidence of civil war and it seems to be a popular school of though among many academics. Still we must take a more in-depth examination of each country.
Botswana: A Rare Success Story
Botswana, a small landlocked country in Southern Africa, received its independence from Britain in 1966. At the time of independence, Botswana was one of the poorest countries in Africa with a GDP per capita of about $70USD (World Bank, 2009). Since the time of independence, Botswana has become one of the “fastest growing economies in the world, even outpacing the Asian Tiger economies with its average growth rate of about 9%” (World Bank,...