Winds Of Economic Change Sweep Africa
In 1960, Harold Macmillan heralded the end of colonial rule in Africa with this speech "The wind of change ...." Almost fifty years later, the wind is again ruffling, only this time it is heralding financial change. Africans across the Diasporas have finally woken up from their slumber
[Guest Column: New Spirit Of African Enterprise]
I was speaking recently with a friend about the new changes and political events that are happening in Africa.
We discussed the usual stuff reported in the news by the general news media - the political instabilities in some of the continent's regions like Zimbabwe, Congo, Sudan; social issues, poverty, HIV/AIDS, malaria - and then the discussion changed to the progress made in the past 10 years by some countries like Nigeria, South Africa, Namibia, Ghana, Liberia, just to name a few.
We both are first generation Americans of African descent and spent our childhood and part of our teen years in Africa, often shuffling between two cultures – U.S.A. and Africa. The Africa --Nigeria-- we grew up in during the late 1970s and 1980s was of abundance. That was before the political climates changed and a majority
of the continent's leaders became corrupted and greedy with the continent's mineral resources and wealth and things took a turn for the worst.
The Nigeria I left in 1990 wasn’t the same one I grew up in when my parents returned from U.S.A. to live in Lagos in the mid 1970s to be closer to relatives and families.
But I still remember the life that my parents and their friends enjoyed when Nigeria’s economy was doing well. Those were the images of Africa that I have held on to for the past years.
For the first time in nearly 20 years I traveled to Africa last year, as part of my research on the continent for the launching of my magazine, to see for myself the changes that have been happening that most mainstream U.S. news media are not reporting. I was amazed at all the changes, some were positive while some were negative – the mass use of mobile phones technology by Africans. The continent is the fastest growing wireless market in the world.
Across the continent in places like Accra, Lagos, Abuja, Nairobi, and Cape Town, a new generation of middle class consumers are using and demanding world quality goods and services. And despite the bad roads and infrastructures, every type of luxury cars found in Asian, European and U.S. roads are on Africa’s soil; owned by the continent's emerging upper middle class. Economic growth rates on the continent have topped five percent for the past five years and will most likely outpace global growth rates this year despite the world economic crisis.
Yes, Africa is open for business and the signs are everywhere! The economic turnaround has been the world's best kept secret. With billions of dollars in line for infrastructure, energy, technology, agriculture and health sector developments, it won’t be a secret much too long.
Time magazine recently listed the continent as one of the top 10 places to look at for investments and already some of the world's smartest investors and companies are making deals that are beginning to tap Africa's vast potential. Even The New York Times has changed its news coverage on Africa and has begun reporting on some of the progress made on the continent and by the African Diaspora in the U.S.
In 1960, British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan heralded the end of colonial rule in Africa with this speech "The wind of change is blowing through this continent. Whether we like it or not, this growth of national consciousness is a political fact." Almost fifty years later, the wind is again ruffling, only this time it is heralding financial change. Africans across the Diasporas have finally woken up from their slumber and are getting their act together, replacing dictatorships with democracies, investing in their own countries and putting in place the leaders and policies that are creating changes, and unleashing a new breed of talent and entrepreneurship across the continent.
Africa is changing and we are part of that change. In every issue of The Africa Bazaar, the magazine that I publish, we’ll bring you the deals, the people that are making the deals and making the continent an exciting new business destination. We’ll analyze the trends, track the developments and crunch the numbers you will need to stay abreast.
We plan to give it to you in a lively read that mixes solid business reporting with lifestyle features, interviews and people profiles that brings the continent’s dynamism and confidence alive. There has never been a better time for the business community and everyone to check its perceptions against Africa’s reality. There’s a common adage in Africa “Give a man a fish, and he will be hungry again. Teach a man how to fish and you've fed him for life.”
This is very true of Africans. Africans have always been entrepreneurs and when given a choice, prefer to find solutions to their problems rather than get “handouts”.
Note: We’ll be announcing more details shortly about the projects we have coming up at The Africa Bazaar. In the meantime, I’m asking for the African Diaspora community and everyone interested in Africa to tell us what you think at editorialTAB@imekmedia.com. Alternately you can reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please visit www.imekmedia.com for more information
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