Africa Rising? Think Again
In the past few years, there has been much talk about “Africa rising”. In late
2011, The Economist (traditionally sceptical of Africa, which it had routinely described as the “hopeless continent”) published a cover that is probably jealously kept in most government offices from Cape to Cairo: a young boy flying a rainbow-coloured kite in the shape of the continent with the headline “Africa rising”. The British magazine pointed out what conventional statistics revealed: “Over the past decade, six of the world’s ten fastest-growing countries were African. In eight of the past ten years, Africa has grown faster than East Asia. ”The lead article described the Onitsha market in southern Nigeria: shops “stacked six feet high with goods”, streets “jammed with customers and salespeople... sweating profusely under the onslaught” in what many consider the “world’s biggest” market. A year later, in December 2012, Time magazine also celebrated “Africa rising”. For the Financial Times, Africa is “calling” investors from all over the world eager to take advantage of a “flourishing market”. The Economist, Time and FT articles were preceded by a 2010 McKinsey report on Africa aptly titled “Lions on the move”.