Das afrikanische Jahrhundert?


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Das afrikanische Jahrhundert?

In Western media, Africa mainly appears as the continent of crisis: news reports on Somali pirates, Boko Haram and, most recently, the Ebola epidemic, are commonplace. In the average Western mind, Africans frequently feature as corrupt political elites (“the root of all evil”), rebels (“depends on what cause they say they are fighting for”), refugees (“poor people, but please don’t invade our social systems”), and the silently suffering crowd (“we’re giving to Western charities!”). Africa, the continent of failed states, mired in conflict: this picture persists.

In Western media, Africa mainly appears as the continent of crisis: news reports on Somali pirates, Boko Haram and, most recently, the Ebola epidemic, are commonplace. In the average Western mind, Africans frequently feature as corrupt political elites (“the root of all evil”), rebels (“depends on what cause they say they are fighting for”), refugees (“poor people, but please don’t invade our social systems”), and the silently suffering crowd (“we’re giving to Western charities!”). Africa, the continent of failed states, mired in conflict: this picture persists.

Since the financial crisis, however, political leaders around the world seem to have started to change their views: faced with flagging domestic economies, they are looking to Africa as an export market, promising Foreign Direct Investment instead of – or along with – Foreign Aid. Africa, despite its difficulties, is increasingly regarded as the continent of commerce.

More than ever, Africa is thus also the continent of contrasts: the United States and Europe are already racing China for land and natural resources, not seldom to the benefit of those political elites their human rights activists regularly scathe. Huge parts of Africa’s growing population continue to live below the poverty line, lacking basic amenities and elementary education. At the same time, venture capitalists fuel start-up hubs, encouraging many, often well- (and foreign-)educated young Africans to find African solutions to African problems.

Could this century be the African century? At the moment, a bet on Africa as the next boom continent appears to be “high risks, high potentials”. But where exactly do those risks and potentials lie? What are the prospects of development – not only in Africa generally, but in its countries and regions specifically? And what, if any, should be the role of the West in African development?

We look forward to discussing these and like questions in our new “Think.” category “Sub-Saharan Africa” and our existing “MENA” category. Therefore, we welcome your submissions at:

corinna.coupette@ifair.eu (Regional Director “Sub-Saharan Africa”)

and

hanna.pfeifer@ifair.eu (Regional Director “MENA”)

Corinna Coupette

Since the financial crisis, however, political leaders around the world seem to have started to change their views: faced with flagging domestic economies, they are looking to Africa as an export market, promising Foreign Direct Investment instead of – or along with – Foreign Aid. Africa, despite its difficulties, is increasingly regarded as the continent of commerce.

More than ever, Africa is thus also the continent of contrasts: the United States and Europe are already racing China for land and natural resources, not seldom to the benefit of those political elites their human rights activists regularly scathe. Huge parts of Africa’s growing population continue to live below the poverty line, lacking basic amenities and elementary education. At the same time, venture capitalists fuel start-up hubs, encouraging many, often well- (and foreign-)educated young Africans to find African solutions to African problems.

Could this century be the African century? At the moment, a bet on Africa as the next boom continent appears to be “high risks, high potentials”. But where exactly do those risks and potentials lie? What are the prospects of development – not only in Africa generally, but in its countries and regions specifically? And what, if any, should be the role of the West in African development?

We look forward to discussing these and like questions in our new “Think.” category “Sub-Saharan Africa” and our existing “MENA” category. Therefore, we welcome your submissions at:

corinna.coupette@ifair.eu (Regional Director “Sub-Saharan Africa”)

and

hanna.pfeifer@ifair.eu (Regional Director “MENA”)

Corinna Coupette

Corinna Coupette