“One of the problems with journalism is that we focus on disasters. We cover planes that crash, not those that take off. In Africa, that means we cover famine in Somalia and genocide in Sudan, terrorism in Nigeria, and warlords in Congo. These are important stories – deserving more attention, not less – but they also leave a casual reader convinced that all of Africa is lurching between genocide and famine.”
These are the words of New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof in an article published earlier this year entitled “Africa on the rise.” The essence of what he discussed is that despite the constant negative headlines there is some burgeoning good news.
As we are a profession that provides the media with information, it stands to reason that if we have positive information we can provide the media with these stories. Then they can communicate them to the world.
With positive news in mind, below is a varied list of some interesting insights about contemporary Africa.
- Numbers don't lie:
- Trade between Africa and the rest of the world has increased by 200% since 2000.
- Inflation has dropped from 22% in the 1990s to 8% in the past decade.
- Foreign debts declined by a quarter, and budget deficits by two-thirds.
- In eight of the past 10 years, according to the World Bank, sub-Saharan growth has been faster than East Asia's.
- Africa's population is set to double, from 1 billion to 2 billion, over the next 40 years.
- The combination of the above elements offers a huge opportunity for African prosperity. [From The Economist, Africa's hopeful economies, December 2011]
- Brainpower: The US Bureau of Statistics said earlier this year that Nigerians make up the most educated immigrant community in the US, surpassing Asian immigrants, who have traditionally held the title. In an exciting twist for the development of Africa, an increasing number of these immigrants are returning home.
- Rwandan tourism boom: It is nearly 20 years since the genocide in Rwanda took place. For nearly two decades, Rwanda has rebuilt itself and from the ashes of its past has emerged a safe, stable, and flourishing country. The Rwanda Development Board said that for the first quarter of 2012, tourism revenue has increased by 11% compared to the same period of last year. Rwanda offers travelers spectacular scenery, a glorious climate, and for the wild-life enthusiasts, views of the rare mountain gorillas.
- Girl power: Africa now has two female heads of state: Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Malawian President Joyce Banda. Earlier this year, they pledged to leverage and dedicate their unprecedented power and influence to improve the lives of women across the continent.
- Calling all techies: “Want to become an internet billionaire? Move to Africa.” This was a headline in Wired magazine last year. The internet is only now arriving, and with a billion people on the continent still mostly offline and with huge broadband fiber optic cables being laid on both east and west coasts from Djibouti to Dakar, there exists a mammoth market for even the most basic techie.
- En vogue: The IHT Luxury Conference, which gathers the world's most inspirational fashion designers and luxury business leaders, dedicated its 12th annual conference to the enduring influence of the Mediterranean countries and the potential of Africa, both as a producer and ultimately consumer of luxury goods.
As discussed in the previous posts, there does exist some serious challenges to development in Africa. The key point behind this blog series is that there also exists a very encouraging story of growth and opportunity in Africa.
With smart and strategic PR from both inside and outside the continent, governments can be held accountable, there can be increased visibility of investment opportunities, travel and tourism can be encouraged, and positive initiatives in Africa can become part of global conversations.