Buy the new Africa (Now with more hope!)

After proclaiming Africa the hopless continent a decade ago, The Economist does an about-face:

Much has been written about the rise of the BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India and China) and the shift in economic power eastward as Asia outruns the rest of the world. But the surprising success story of the past decade lies elsewhere.

An analysis by The Economist finds that over the ten years to 2010, no fewer than six of the world’s ten fastest-growing economies were in sub-Saharan Africa.

The newspaper attributes the growth (and its persistence in future) to political stability. I agree. But will it continue?

The situation in Cote d’Ivoire and Sudan would seem to threaten that stability in the West and Central Africa, just as Somalia, Kenya and Zimbabwe are seen as possibly destabilizing the East and South.

Undoubtedly true in the short term, but true in the long term?

One of my favorite quotes from Claude Ake comes to mind: “There is really only one process of democratization,” he writes, “and that is a process of struggle. Democracy is never given, it is always taken.”

One can view the struggle in Cote d’Ivoire less as a setback for democracy in the region and more as a (necessary? inevitable?) step in democratic development. It’s not clear to me how much democracy can be bestowed from the outside–at least how much that is stable and lasting.

The limits of international condemnation and sanctions become clearer by the day. Is this one largely up to the Ivoirians?