A few months ago current British Prime Minister David Cameron in a visit to Nigeria stated that “Tell me this: which part of the world has seen its number of democracies increase nearly eight-fold in just two decades? Eastern Europe? No, it’s Africa. Which continent has six of the ten fastest growing economies in the world? Asia? No, it’s Africa. Which country is predicted by some to have the highest average GDP growth in the world over the next 40 years? You might think Brazil, Russia, India or China. No. Think Africa. Think Nigeria. “The point I want to make today, is this: This can be Africa’s moment. Africa is transforming in a way no-one thought possible 20 years ago, and suddenly a whole new future seems within reach.”
This week the former British Prime Minsiter, Tony Blair and Rajiv Shah, Head of US agency for International Development issued a statement declaring their optimism about Africa, citing that “over the past decade, eight economies from sub-Saharan Africa have more than doubled in size. They also pointed to political progress with the number of democracies in sub-Saharan Africa jumping from only three in 1989 to 23 in 2008. The two attributed the march of progress to a new generation of leaders, described as “incredible men and women who are shaking the old narrative of a dormant Africa and replacing it with one of optimism, determination and progress.”
Are these gushing prouncements just hype or are we seeing the emergence of a new Africa or more accurately ”China”? The average African on the streets of Nairobi, Cairo, Lagos or Accra may not neccessarily see what the economists see. GDP may mean something to a few, but the “common” man only judges his plight by the extent to which he is able to access the basic necessities of life. In too many African countries these basic neccessities are still only available to a few. As the saying goes “If you hype something and it succeeds, you’re a genius – it wasn’t hype. If you hype it and it fails, then it was just a hype.” Let’s hope for Africa’s sake that David Cameron and Tony Blair are right and that we are indeed on the cusp of something truely amazing.
Kwame Peprah, Kumasi – Ghana