It’s just a stroke of luck that some people were born in the cossetted wealth of Europe and America and others struggle for life in Africa.
But life in Africa is improving for millions as science makes huge strides forward in the treatment of diseases of almost plague-like proportions that have decimated the continent.
Although the statistics would be poor reading for someone living in the comparatively rich club of leading developed G8 countries, they are amazing for Africa.
Since 2000, they are less likely to die young and more likely to go to school.
Corruption and denial of human rights
Malaria and HIV/Aids are more under control, life expectancy has increased a decade to 60 years old.
But Africans are still their own worst enemies, with factional politics, corruption and denial of human rights stubbornly continuing.
Billionaire philanthropist Mo Ibrahim has tried to work out how countries are changing by scoring their progress on a report card with more than 100 performance indicators.
Countries are marked for safety and rule of law; human rights, economic opportunity and human development, which includes health and education prospects.
The research shows 40 countries improved governance over the past decade, but half of these nations have reversed or slowed progress.
Safety and rule of law has also declined – 43 countries gained a perfect score in 2007, but this has dropped to 18 a decade later.
Participation, measured by how many take part in free elections, is also worsening.
“All three underlying governance dimensions of human development (welfare, education and health) have improved over the last 10 years, but worryingly, progress is slowing in all of them,” says the foundation.
“In education, progress in the last five years has almost ground to a halt, with almost half of the continent showing deterioration in this area.
“Over the last five years, education provision, which assesses the extent to which the public are satisfied with how their government is addressing educational needs, is the most deteriorated indicator in the human development category, and the third most deteriorated in the entire index.”