Answered on Quora.
I hate to say it, but I think they have genetically low IQ. This is very sad because it smashes a lot of our hopes for Africa and makes its problems even less salvageable.
Nevertheless, due to something called the Flynn Effect, IQ’s in at least some African countries have risen a lot in only a few decades. I believe Kenya saw a rise of ~30 IQ points. But everyone else’s went up too due to the same effect, so at some point, it’s an arms race. An example would be the question of how fast do I have to be to outrun a tiger? I don’t have to be faster than a tiger to outrun a tiger, I just have to be faster than you!
Nevertheless, assuming that Flynn rises are actual increases in intelligence (I think they are), then Africans are definitely getting smarter. That the rest of the world is too doesn’t matter so much. If Africans get more intelligent, they will be so much better at solving their problems.
There are a lot of tropical diseases, parasites, and malnutrition in Africa which undoubtedly lower scores. Nevertheless, I still feel that there is a genetic lower intelligence that is a huge problem. Personally I think many of the problems of Africa are down to low intelligence.
What I am interested in is the notion of raising IQ. IQ can absolutely be raised in many ways, mostly nutritional. The Flynn rise is partly due to nutrition but also due to better education and also a more complex modern society. The ~30 point rise in Kenya was heavily on vocabulary, mathematics, and general knowledge, and it was thought to be down to better schooling.
Let’s get serious about IQ and do everything we can to raise the IQ’s of Africans in whatever way we can. If we can’t raise it enough by environment, maybe in the future we could monkey with human genes. I am serious. That’s how serious of a problem low IQ is in large populations.
You don’t make a problem go away by saying it doesn’t exist. It just festers, prolongs, and maybe gets worse.