To all appearances, 2010 hasn't been a year of breakout social progress for Africa. Harsh anti-homosexual laws in Uganda, widespread brutality in Congo, political instability in Nigeria and Zimbabwe, food shortages across the continent--none of that news suggests a region undergoing rapid modernization or transformative economic growth. Yet Newsweek's Jerry Guo argues that on many important metrics--such as GDP expansion and gross national income--several African nations have joined the ranks of China and India as burgeoning economic powers to be reckoned with.
Guo notes that while "pervasive corruption" remains a problem in many places, Africa enjoys an "expansive base of newly minted consumers" and "the world's highest rate of urbanization." He relates tales of Nigeria's nouveau riche, and runs down a list of factors contributing to growth:
Spurred by eager investors, governments have steadily deregulated industries and developed infrastructure. As a result, countries such as Kenya and Botswana now boast privately owned world-class hospitals, charter schools, and toll roads that are actually safe to drive on. A study by a World Bank program, the Africa Infrastructure Country Diagnostic, found that improvements in Africa's telecom infrastructure have contributed as much as 1 percent to per capita GDP growth, a bigger role than changes in monetary or fiscal policies. Shares of stocks in recently privatized local airlines, freight companies, and telecoms have skyrocketed.
This optimism stands in contrast--if not in contradiction--to the accounts of human-rights violations from Nicholas Kristof and other international commentators.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to email@example.com.