There's an interesting live debate on the subject (now about to close) being held by The Economist here.
Some previous Economist Debates with specific interest to Africa:
A debate is raging not just in Arab countries but all over the world about whether democracy in Egypt is possible or even desirable. Will Egypt embrace democracy in the next year? Will autocracy prevail? Or will Egypt descend into chaos?
China's growing involvement in Africa
What is China doing for Africa? The Asian giant is hungry for resources—oil, notably, but minerals and land too—that are abundant on the continent. China also wants strong political ties, for example to build alliances at the United Nations and at global summits. Increasingly, too, Chinese are migrating to Africa. The result is increased trade and investment and a powerful counterweight to Western and former colonial interest in Africa. But there is a downside too. Alliances with China help to protect undemocratic and repressive African governments. China's presence in Zambia, for example, has stirred fierce resentment and accusations of neo-colonial meddling. Lack of concern for human rights or transparency risks bringing just the wrong sort of development to parts of Africa. Chinese imports are helping to smash Africa's putative manufacturing sector to bits. For the average African, might the presence of China be a mixed blessing?
Just over half the world's population now call cities home. Soon some 500 cities around the world will have more than 1m people each. Within a couple of decades, says the UN, 5 billion people will live in cities, with the most rapid rise in the number of urban dwellers coming in Asia and Africa. Urbanisation typically comes, in the long term, with great gains to human development: it helps to create wealth, spur innovation, encourage freedom and improve the education of those who make it to town. But the rapid spread of sprawling, ill-planned mega cities, the rise of slums that are home to millions of the poor, the dreadful pollution and congestion common to many fast-growing cities, the rising power of urban gangs and even paramilitary forces in some countries, all suggest that too-rapid growth can harm, as well as improve, the residents' quality of life. So should, and could, the growth of cities be restricted, and by whom? Would restrictions improve the lives of city dwellers—and what of the lives of those left outside the city walls?
Driven in part by a progressive lowering of barriers to trade in both rich and developing countries, global trade expanded faster in the decades leading up to the crisis than the global economy grew. Economists argue that free trade makes everyone better off, allowing more, and more varied, goods, and lower prices, than would otherwise be possible. Some also argue that it leads to faster economic growth and less poverty.
Some critics of free trade argue, however, that its supposed benefits for poor people and developing countries are illusory. Trade, they say, benefits rich countries at the expense of poor ones, increasing inequality between nations. Others say that it hurts rich-country workers, particularly the less skilled, thus increasing economic equality within rich countries. All would rather that the world concentrate its efforts on making trade "fairer" rather than further attempt to reduce trade barriers.
What does the balance of the evidence say? What does it actually mean to make trade fairer? Fairer for whom? Must the two goals be mutually exclusive?
The idea that language influences thought is a profound, exciting and possibly disturbing one. It has often been used to exoticise other languages: in the 1930s, Benjamin Lee Whorf wrote that Hopi had no words for time (like days and months), and therefore perceived time far differently than European-language speakers do. The belief that language shapes thought also has political implications: in "Nineteen Eighty-Four", George Orwell imagined a dystopia in which government banned subversive words, making the associated thoughts unthinkable. Even in this decade, a group of French activists have proposed making French the sole language of European law, because of its purported great "rigour" and "precision". Does the language we speak shape how we think?