Africa’s Diaspora to the Rescue

DAKAR – There is something dismally familiar about the tide of news reports concerning Africa’s increased suffering – more poverty, malnutrition, civil strife, and death – in the face of the recent global financial crisis. Almost everywhere, the media translates academic conclusions into graphic illustrations of brutality and despair in places such as Guinea and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

But there is another, woefully under-reported, side to the story. African countries that were locked out of international capital markets for most of the past five decades have largely been spared the twin woes of financial turmoil and economic downturn. The continent’s economies experienced a slowdown, but not a recession. Indeed, according to McKinsey & Company, Africa was the third-largest contributor to world economic growth in 2009, after China and India.

Moreover, several African countries have received ratings from credit agencies, which has opened up global financial centers to them. In some cases, these ratings have proved equivalent to or higher than those of countries such as Turkey or Argentina. Stock exchanges are being established across the continent.

Furthermore, countries such as China, India, and Brazil has provided a platform for increased exports and the inception of a model of cooperation based on trade, investment, and technology transfer, rather than “aid.” China-Africa trade alone increased from $10 billion in 2000 to $107 billion in 2008, and billions of dollars are being invested in oil production, mining, transportation, electricity generation and transmission, telecommunications, and other infrastructure.