Africa´s Rise: On Shaky Ground

As Africa faces demographic growth of historic dimensions, hopes for corresponding economic development are high. But the continent is unprepared, and the recent economic improvements are threatened.

If you wish to gain insight into Africa’s recent economic rise, go to the border crossing between Burundi and Rwanda. On the Rwandan side you will find colorful posters advertising mobile phones, whereas in Burundi the asphalt street ends after a few kilometers and turns into an unpaved road. The two countries could not be more distinct from each other.

Rwanda represents progress and hope. Like in other African countries, a middle class and a service sector have emerged. In contrast, Burundi is regularly ranked amongst the world’s worst countries in a diversity of aspects – no matter which study – and is part of the “Africa” that has defined the continent´s public perception for the past decades. For some journalists and experts, it seems to be clear that Burundi is first and foremost Africa’s past, while Rwanda’s model casts a light for the future of the continent. Indeed, cover stories such as TIME’s “Africa Rising” from 2012 are based on solid numbers. The World Bank projects GDP growth to continue at around 5 percent throughout the next years.

However, these indicators are misleading: The prospects of sub-Saharan Africa do not depend on foreign investors’ money and cannot be analyzed based on the amount of advertisement posters. Instead, it is Africa’s mothers who will decide what their continent is going to look like in the not-too-distant future. In around 100 years Nigeria’s population will be comparable to China’s, but in an area the size of Texas. Within the same time span, Africa’s population is likely to quadruple. Instead of one billion people, four billion Africans will have to make do with resources that are already scarce and insufficient today. In Burundi, this evolution could prevent any possible economic and political development and even sources of hope such as Rwanda face major challenges.

Read the full blog post on THE EUROPEAN´s website.

Quoted by bps´s “Sicherheitspolitische Presseschau”.

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