A few days ago, I read and commented an interesting post by Benin Mwangi at AfricanPath, about an article recently appeared in the Economist under the title “Will Africa ever get it right?”.
I couldn’t avoid referring to it while reading the commentary herein attached. It opens with this statement: “These days, there are two stories of Africa. One of these, dominant internationally, consists of missed targets and broken promises. The headlines of recent weeks — Nigeria’s presidential elections, Zimbabwe’s slow-motion economic collapse, continued insecurity in east Africa — all point to genuine challenges for African and international leadership. The second story, proving the adage that bad stories crowd out the good, is less reported in the international media but just as important. This story is of the recent uplift in Africa’s economic growth, the extraordinary buoyancy of the continent’s capital markets, gradual improvements in political governance and the outbreak of peace in Côte d’Ivoire and Uganda.”
It also notes that “there are at least two new elements that should give policy makers, investors and business people pause for thought. The first is the changing composition of the mosaic that is Africa. A few years ago, there were small islands of good news in a sea of bad. These days the negative stories seem the more surprising because they are occurring against a background of improvement. The second is the changing nature of Africa’s risk outlook. Beyond the known risks to Africa’s growth and prosperity, Africa is increasingly exposed to global risks that originate outside the continent but which can have powerful effects on it.”
Having presented those global risks, namely climate change, terrorism and an asset-price collapse, it concludes that “for now, none of these global risks — highlighted in the Global Risks 2007 report released at the Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos — has found a full African response.”
Could it be that the reason for such lack of a full response is that most African countries are still grappling with such “homely” issues as the HIV/AIDS pandemic, the brain drain and all sorts of institutional weaknesses before the continent can effectivelly "thicken its skin"? Whatever the answer, I think that this line of reporting on Africa can be taken as a more balanced response to the negativism expressed in that Economist’s article.