As someone that grew up in Africa, poor but not abject, and have traveled to some of the poorest parts of Africa I agree that "happiness" is experienced often regardless of your "material" conditions.
This said - there are basics that we all need, to feel a sense of "humanity". They are age old things that the great philosophers have talked about for eons. In modern terms they are things like - fresh water, food, clothing, security and a place to sleep.
In America we think that this means - Gucci, 3600 sq foot houses, every imaginable food and more. We have excess but think it is what will get us closer to satisfaction and happiness.
Africa needs to build up the basic necessities - this is what leaders in Africa are starting to talk about.
The image of Africa in America is sooo distorted - but this is true for the image of America in Africa too.
We all come up with easy to grab soundbites. It is our challenge as citizens to change those views and challenge those perceptions.