每日英語跟讀 Ep.1018: ‘Africa Rising’? ‘Africa Reeling’ May Be More Fitting Now
For decades Africa was eager for a new narrative, and in recent years it got a snappy one.
The Economist published a cover story titled “Africa Rising.” A Texas business school professor published a book called “Africa Rising.” And in 2011, The Wall Street Journal ran a series of articles about economic growth on the continent, and guess what that series was called?
The rise seemed obvious: You could simply stroll around Nairobi, Kenya’s capital, or many other African capitals, and behold new shopping malls, new hotels, new solar-powered streetlights, sometimes even new Domino’s pizzerias, all buoyed by what appeared to be high economic growth rates sweeping the continent.
For so long Africa had been associated with despair and doom, and now the quality of life for many Africans was improving. Hundreds of thousands of Rwandans were getting clean water for the first time. In Kenya, enrollment in public universities more than doubled from 2007 to 2012. In many countries, life expectancy was increasing, infant mortality decreasing.
But in recent months, as turmoil has spread across the continent, and the red-hot economic growth has cooled, this optimistic narrative has taken a hit. Some analysts are now questioning how profound the growth actually was.
“Nothing has changed on the governance front, nothing has changed structurally,” said Grieve Chelwa, a Zambian economist who is a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard.
“Africa rising was really good for some crackpot dictators,” he added. “But in some ways, it was a myth.”
No place exposes the cracks in the “Africa rising” narrative better than Ethiopia, which had been one of the fastest risers.
Ethiopia is now in flames. Hundreds have been killed during protests that have convulsed the country.
It seems the continent as a whole is heading into a tough period. Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, faces its gravest economic crisis in years because of low oil prices. At the same time, it is trying to fight off Boko Haram, one of the most bloodthirsty insurgent groups on the planet.
South Africa, the continent’s most developed nation, has been wracked by waves of unrest. Troops with assault rifles stomp around college campuses, trying to quell student protests. The country’s currency, the rand, hovers near a record low.
South Sudan, which topped The Economist’s list in 2013 of the world’s fastest-growing economies, is now a killing field, the site of one of Africa’s worst civil wars.
Source article: https://paper.udn.com/udnpaper/POH0067/305550/web/