Tuesday, July 3, 2012

NY Times: Africa on the Rise

I was slightly encouraged to read a NY Times editorial regarding the amazing rise in economic development in Africa.

The Western narrative -- written in stone -- has been to cast and define Africa by disease, famine, war and overall dysfunction.

While there is no denying that elements of the aforementioned exist, there are many incredible stories of not just survival but excellence that are unreported -- thereby leaving many in Western society clueless.

Conversely, countries like China, India, Brazil and Japan have taken note and are in the process of making a larger presence in Africa -- for trade not for aid.

As the Economist magazine article stated:

Africa is on a fast track out of poverty. Its astonishing growth is making it an increasingly enticing destination for global companies as northern hemisphere economies contract and stutter.

GENERATIONS of Americans have learned to pity Africa. It’s mainly seen as a quagmire of famine and genocide, a destination only for a sybaritic safari or a masochistic aid mission.
So here’s another way to think of Africa: an economic dynamo. Is it time to prepare for the African tiger economy? Six of the world’s 10 fastest-growing economies between 2001 and 2010 were in Africa, according to The Economist. The International Monetary Fund says that between 2011 and 2015, African countries will account for 7 of the top 10 spots.
Africa isn’t just a place for safaris or humanitarian aid. It’s also a place to make money. Global companies are expanding in Africa; vast deposits of oil, gas and minerals are being discovered; and Goldman Sachs recently issued a report, “Africa’s Turn,” comparing business opportunities in Africa with those in China in the early 1990s.
I’m writing this column in Lesotho, a mountainous kingdom (it was snowing the day I arrived!) in southern Africa, on my annual win-a-trip journey. The winner this year, Jordan Schermerhorn, an engineering student at Rice University, and I visited garment factories that make clothing for American stores. This country is Africa’s biggest apparel exporter to America.
One set of factories we visited, belonging to the Nien Hsing Textile Company, a giant Taiwanese corporation, employs 10,000 people in Lesotho, making this its biggest operation in the world. Workers turn out bluejeans for Levi’s and other American companies, and Alan Han, a senior company official, said quality is comparable to that of factories in Asia.  Read entire editorial

Related stories:

Africa Rising - a continent of hope

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