There are so many different kinds of cultures, governments, and physical environments in Africa south of the Sahara that generalizations can be misleading. It is not all just chaos and misery, though as whole, this part of the world has made less economic progress than any other large region. Particularly compared to the immense economic growth in East Asia, much of South and Southeast Asia, and most of Latin America, Africa has lagged behind.
There are, however, some bright spots. South Africa remains a dynamic and large economy as well as a democratic country. Rwanda has made extraordinary economic progress in the past decade, though it remains poor. Ghana is an island of stability and democracy in West Africa. The situation in the Ivory Coast, while still perilous, is hopeful as it stabilizes after a civil war and more than a decade of ethnic conflict. There are other cases of emerging democracy, and the general rise of oil and other commodity prices has helped many African countries.
Nevertheless, Africa is the last part of the world that is experiencing runaway population growth that threatens to undermine any economic progress. Too large a portion of the population still depends on agriculture, too much of which is done with relatively poor technologies.