Africa Emerges as a Continent of Economic Opportunity

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In the past decade, Africa has emerged in the consciousness of the world in the context of an evolution in the continent’s image. Africa is not yet seen as the place to be, to go to, or to be envied in terms of economic or societal progress. Indeed, still too many people around the world hold a decidedly different view. Gradually but surely, however, Africa is increasingly viewed less as a “hopeless” continent and more as one with promise for economic development; less as a haven of poverty, war and natural disaster and more as a continent that offers economic opportunity.
In short, Africa is seen more as a “normal”, even if less prosperous place compared to many other parts of the world than what it once was; a decidedly “abnormal” place off the map of the mental imagination. This recent emergence and positive evolution of the continent’s image has led to the growth of an “Africa-Rising” industry of analysts, commentators, scholars and business executives which sees the continent as the next big thing in the world’s economy. The continent in this view can lay claim to a looming “African Century” close on the heels of the economic rise of Asia in the 20th and 21st centuries.
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Three main factors have shaped this trend. Firstly, many of the wars for which Africa was famous have ended. The wars in Sierra Leone and Liberia, the Great Lakes region of Africa including Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, as well as the long, armed conflicts in the Horn of Africa in Ethiopia, Eritrea and Sudan were and are only a few of the destructive orgies of annihilation of human capital, political stability and economic possibilities that shaped perceptions of Africa as a war zone writ large in the 1980s, the 1990s and the 2000s.
As most of these conflicts have ended, more recent ones have raged in Mali and the Central African Republic, keeping the world’s peacekeeping armies in business. But the continent is far more at peace now than it once was, clearing the path for a shift in attention to democratisation and economic development.

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