Bill Gates
Bill Gates Wikimedia Commons

No poor countries by 2035, says Bill Gates

MULTI-billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates believes here will be "almost no poor countries by 2035", and that child mortality rates in the poorest nations will plummet to the same levels as in the US and UK in 1980.

In his 2014 annual letter on behalf of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation the former Microsoft CEO lists three "myths" on poverty: that poor countries are doomed stay poor, that foreign aid is a big waste and saving lives leads to overpopulation.

Listed as the richest man in the world in 2013 by Bloomberg's Billionaire's List, Mr Gates and his wife, Melinda, are using their $67 billion dollar wealth to help the underprivileged.

The Gates Foundation is expected to have given away the entire fortune by the time the couple have been dead for 20 years .

In the header on the online letter, Mr Gates claims the world is in a better state than it has ever been.

"By almost any measure, the world is better than it has ever been. People are living longer, healthier lives. Many nations that were aid recipients are now self-sufficient," he writes.

"You might think that such striking progress would be widely celebrated, but in fact, Melinda and I are struck by how many people think the world is getting worse.

"The belief that the world can't solve extreme poverty and disease isn't just mistaken. It is harmful. That's why in this year's letter we take apart some of the myths that slow down the work. The next time you hear these myths, we hope you will do the same.  "

Mr Gates goes on to make the bold prediction that poverty could be almost eliminated by 2035.

"I am optimistic enough about this that I am willing to make a prediction. By 2035, there will be almost no poor countries left in the world. (I mean by our current definition of poor.)," he writes.

"Almost all countries will be what we now call lower-middle income or richer. Countries will learn from their most productive neighbors and benefit from innovations like new vaccines, better seeds, and the digital revolution. Their labor forces, buoyed by expanded education, will attract new investments.

"Specifically, I mean that by 2035, almost no country will be as poor as any of the 35 countries that the World Bank classifies as low-income today, even after adjusting for inflation.

"A few countries will be held back by war, politics (North Korea, barring a big change there), or geography (landlocked nations in central Africa). And inequality will still be a problem: There will be poor people in every region.

"But most of them will live in countries that are self-sufficient. Every nation in South America, Asia, and Central America (with the possible exception of Haiti), and most in coastal Africa, will have joined the ranks of today's middle-income nations. More than 70 percent of countries will have a higher per-person income than China does today. Nearly 90 percent will have a higher income than India does today."

Mr Gates also believes child mortality could be significantly reduced, largely due to health aid.

"Health aid is a phenomenal investment," he writes.

"When I look at how many fewer children are dying than 30 years ago, and how many people are living longer and healthier lives, I get quite optimistic about the future.

"The foundation worked with a group of eminent economists and global health experts to look at what's possible in the years ahead.

"As they wrote last month in the medical journal The Lancet, with the right investments and changes in policies, by 2035, every country will have child-mortality rates that are as low as the rate in America or the U.K. in 1980." 

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