Gone are the days of dictators and planned economies running the show south of the Sahel. Today, Africa boasts 23 democracies – 20 more than in 1989; two women heads of state, one of whom is also a Nobel Laureate; an emerging middle class, which makes up nearly one third of its population; and waning reliance on aid in place of self sufficiency through employment.
A continent that once relied on aid now thrives through associations. Numerous NGOs have partnered with groups in Rwanda to educate their youth. Through the Bridge2Rwanda program, young Rwandans are now attending university in the United States with plans to repatriate after graduation to advance their nation. Carnegie Mellon University – a top 30 research institution -- even opened a campus in Kigali, putting Western education in the heart of Africa.
Africa’s emerging markets compliment the increased availability to education. Africa now has 15 active stock exchanges compared to only five in 1989, with 22 participating countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. This active economic sector and increased stability has attracted companies including Google, who operates six offices in Sub-Saharan Africa; IBM, who opened a new office in Seneagal; Wal Mart, who is looking to expand operations in South Africa; and Dow, who recently opened an office in Kenya.
With markets on the rise, a growing middle class, women in positions of power and with more readily available education, there is no doubt that Africa is rising. But even with these advancements, the countries making strides need to continue on their upward trajectory and the handful of notable detractors who continue toe the line of Africa’s tumultuous past need to learn from the continent’s new leaders. With work still to be done, Africa’s untapped potential could very well turn into one of international development’s greatest success stories.
By Her Excellency Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of Liberia
When he addressed the Ghanaian Parliament in 2009, President Barack Obama reminded the people of Africa that the great men of the past would no longer shape the continent’s history. The future of all of Africa’s countries is now in the hands of a rising generation—young people, as President Obama said, “brimming with talent and energy and hope, who can claim the future that so many in previous generations never realized.” With few notable exceptions, Africa is no longer made up of countries with corrupt big men who rule with iron fists. It is no longer the Dark Continent in continual economic free fall, wallowing in debt, poverty and disease. Now, Africa is on the rise.
By Her Excellency Joyce Banda, Former President of Malawi
Becoming the second female head of state in Africa’s history is a great honor and responsibility. But mine is not a success story of an individual but rather a people.
By Charity Wallace
Former U.S. First Lady Laura Bush convened a summit of African First Ladies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania on July 2-3, 2013. Titled “Investing in Women: Strengthening Africa,” the event focused on strategies to empower women that lead to greater stability and prosperity in their families thereby strengthening their communities and nations.
Of the world’s 1.6 billion workers, females are paid on average less than men. Moreover, women are disproportionately employed in low-productivity, low-paying jobs. As a result of women not achieving their full potential in society, households, communities, and countries suffer. Just taking basic economics into account, empowering an unproductive segment of society can lead to economic growth. But more so, when women earn they can invest in their children’s education and health, giving the next generation a leg up.
The nature of foreign aid has changed. What was once a conversation solely for the world’s governments has become democratized through private philanthropy, remittances, personal networks, local non-profits doing global work and of course trade, business and investment. Indeed globalization has raised questions concerning the meaning and nature of foreign aid. In particular: What works? What doesn’t? And how can private forces be harnessed for growth and development?
By Bill Gates
By almost any measure, the world is better than it has ever been. People are living longer, healthier lives. Extreme poverty rates have been cut in half in the past 25 years. Child mortality is plunging. Many nations that were aid recipients are now self-sufficient.
By His Excellency Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda
Africa today has the opportunity to play its rightful role in the global arena. But to do so the continent needs to speak with one voice and be competitive in all aspects. This, in turn, demands radical socio-economic transformation. Of course, none of that can happen until Africa’s people lead dignified lives and can take full charge of their development agenda.
By Patricia Crisafulli and Andrea Redmond
There is a joke among residents and frequent visitors to Kigali, the capital city of Rwanda, that if you blink twice, you will see a building that wasn’t there just the other day. What seems like pure exaggeration became a reality for us over numerous trips made to this tiny, landlocked country in eastern Africa. Each time we arrived, there was something else to see. Tower cranes sprouted in new places along the skyline. A multistory hotel to be operated by a leading interna- tional hospitality brand went from a construction shell to near completion. Even traffic light installations began to tame Kigali’s chaotic and sometimes heart-stopping traffic patterns.
Doing Business in Africa
Amateur financial sector is crucial to any modern economy. Financial systems provide capital to entrepreneurs, encourage individual savings, minimize risk and increase liquidity. Stock markets in particular support economic growth by improving domestic savings and increasing both the quality and quantity of foreign and domestic investment. Moreover, companies can raise capital at a lower cost without having to rely on financing from a bank.
Historically, the West has viewed Africa as little more than a target for philanthropy. Even today sub-Saharan Africa continues to be the largest recipient of aid from the OEDC and the largest recipient of U.S. foundation money, according to the Hudson Institute’s Index of Global Philanthropy and Remittances. But while the good intentions behind these charitable flows may be laudable, their impact has been less than desirable. Fortunately, thanks to real changes taking place in Africa, the continent’s narrative has shifted from donor target to investment opportunity.
By Mark Darrough
Procter & Gamble has traditionally sold its huge array of consumer products in US and European markets. But when the global recession stalled growth rates and lowered consumer demand in developed countries, P&G shifted its global strategy to emerging markets. In South America, India, Russia and Africa hundreds of millions of untapped consumers represented a new frontier for P&G to maintain its ambitious growth targets.
By Mark Darrough
By 19, Zain Latif had graduated from Cass Business School with a Masters of Finance. Then with HSBC in London he spearheaded an effort to bring Nigeria’s first bank to the inter- national market. At 23, he became VP of emerging markets at Merrill Lynch and quickly engineered a number of groundbreaking deals in sub-Saharan Africa. Soon after he joined Goldman Sachs as executive director in the emerging markets division, where he led the bank’s focus on sub-Saharan Africa. In 2009, Latif founded TLG Capital – a private equity fund dedicated to the belief that commercial and social returns go hand-in-hand in frontier markets.
China in Africa
By Deborah Brautigam
Once upon a time, a very large, poor, but resource-rich country emerging from a period of intense conflict decided to focus on development. “We need to modernize our infrastructure,” they said. “We need to develop our power plants.” And soon they were visited from a wealthy Asian country that was already a major consumer of their oil. This Asian country said to them: “We’ll make you a bargain. We’ll give you a line of credit worth $10 billion and you can use that credit to improve your infrastructure and power plants. You can import technologies from us, and our companies can help you develop your mines.”
China’s interest in Africa raises tough questions the world over. Maybe most pressingly for the United States: What does China’s pragmatic, multifaceted agenda on the African continent mean for African democracy, especially in light of the failures of Western aid? Time will provide the answer, but in the meantime westerners need a new way to approach Africa.
Amidst her critique of the West- ern aid regime in her 2009 book Dead Aid, Dambisa Moyo looked east for answers to Africa’s development questions. “China’s African role is wider, more sophisticated and more businesslike than any other country’s at any time in the post-war period,” Moyo writes in her chapter “The Chinese are our friends.”
By Mthuli Ncube and Michael Fairbanks
Myths and realities about China’s ambitions in Africa abound: China is monolithic, mired in stale ideology, subverting the Bretton Woods system, and unwilling to provide global public goods. Another is that China has no “soft power,” that is, the ability to engage almost one billion Africans by persuasion, attraction, and market relations rather than brute economic and military force.
By Donald L. Cassell, Jr., AIA, Senior Fellow, Jordan Clark, Research Assistant, Sagamore Institute
When Singapore gained its independence from Great Britain in 1965, it was consid- ered a “basket case.” Wealth was scarce at $400 GDP per capita, unemployment was high (14%), and sanitation and education services were poor. Lacking in natural resources and possessing almost no land space in which to grow, it was plagued by a depleted treasury, tense labor standoffs, and widespread social indiscipline. This instability earned Singapore a reputation as one of the world’s riskiest places for investment, with some even fearing a communist takeover.
Promise of Africa
With 54 countries, over 1000 languages, and nearly 800 million people, Africa is a complex and vibrant place. And the world is taking notice. Along with Africa’s economic rise, buzz about the continent has expanded into blogospheres, news media, and pop culture more than ever before. From the Wall Street Journal to TED, major media outlets are changing how people think about Africa.