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The Africa We Never See
Alex Steffen, 20 Apr 05

An opinion piece worth reading on The Africa you never see, the parts of the continent that are growing more prosperous:

Yes, Africa is a land of wars, poverty and corruption. The situation in places like Darfur, Sudan, desperately cries out for more media attention and international action. But Africa is also a land of stock markets, high rises, Internet cafes and a growing middle class. This is the part of Africa that functions. And this Africa also needs media attention, if it's to have any chance of fully joining the global economy.

The author's rah-rah attitude aside, it's a point worth thinking on. How are the stories we tell each other about Africa obscuring other, equally important realities?

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Comments

Is "Africa" a useful term? What mental model(s) does the term reflect? How much abstraction is needed to reduce hundreds of millions of people, within millions of square kilometers, to a geographic construct? Is this any more useful than the abstractions "India," "Europe" or "North America"?


Posted by: David Foley on 21 Apr 05

Well, we've got a group of companies (including one big sponsor) sending us into East Africa to test methods for discovering new business opportunities and innovations among some of the poorer communities there.

For more take a look at http://www.BRINQ.com/projects/kenya/

The work is based on something called the Base of the Pyramid Protocol, developed by sustainabile enterprise guru Stu Hart and a host of others (including entrepreneurs like world-changer Mohammed Bah Abba).

Where other people don't know to look, there's always opportunity.


Posted by: Patrick Donohue on 22 Apr 05

Alex's 'Rah-Rah' remark in a sense typifies the paternalistic and somewhat condescending commentary on and about the continent. One does get the sense that it is wrong to be enthusiastic about Africa unless the topic is related to despair and destruction. 'Informed journalists' dont realise how alien their accounts of Africa would appear to Africans themselves.Where are the reporters when the wars end and the rebuilding begins? I'm referring to Liberia, Sierra Leone , Angola etc. remember them? My point being that accentuating the constructive as Carol Pineau has done, does not even begin to tilt the scale on 'basket case' stories implied or otherwise about the continent. She was commenting on a subject that very few in West know anything about.Something however that an increasing number Africans are experiencing in their daily lives


Posted by: Emeka Okafor on 23 Apr 05



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