Africa is, for the most part, not a very cheap place to travel. This comes as a surprise to many people since many of the world’s poorest countries are in Africa and it seems like every week brings news of some new calamity. And depending on who you ask, the continent gets anywhere from 25 percent to 75 percent of all the aid money in the world.
But here’s one clue. According to the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Study, nine of the world’s ten worst places to do business are in Africa. Here’s the bottom 9 of 10:
Democratic Republic of Congo
Republic of Congo
Sao Tome and Principe
Central African Republic
If you follow the link above, you find most other African nations are languishing near the bottom as well. How does this affect what travelers pay? It means that while entrepreneurs prosper in many of the countries filled with thousands of cheap places to eat and sleep, in much of Africa it’s hard to get a business off the ground. Would-be entrepreneurs face a load of regulations, a series of officials will all have their hands out for bribes, and then the shakedowns continue after the business is up and running.
Every guy with $50 to his name is starting a samosa stand in India or noodle cart in Bangkok and the ones with a bit more are opening a restaurant or guesthouse. In much of Africa, on the other hand, only the people with loads of capital or good government connections are going to bother.
The countries at the top in the survey are, predictably, the developed countries where corruption is mostly subdued and the court of law protects property and business rights. Some of the world’s cheapest destinations are at least in the top 75 though, including Thailand, Malaysia, Mexico, Romania, Bulgaria, Peru, Hungary, and Nicaragua.