Rebuilding Foundations

An exploration of international development work in Africa

The reality is better than the perception

Eric’s recent post about the different perceptions of Africa is awesome!

The reality is better than the perception.

Africa is a big continent.  That should go without saying.  Yet I think Eric writes about an important issue: we lump all the countries in this continent together to make broad generalizations.  On the one hand, generalizations are often important to help people simplify information and understand it.  At the same time, however, when they get too broad there’s not enough truth left to make the statement useful.

At a recent Development Dinner I attended, the guests talked about an “African” solution to the continent’s social and economic problems.  The assumption was that Africa is needs to find its own path: it shouldn’t copy the United States or Europe.

Yes, that’s true.  But not because we need something that’s uniquely “African.”  No – it’s true because neither the US or Europe (except perhaps Germany) are beacons of economic hope at the moment.  Let’s be honest: those economies are falling apart faster than their governments can print money or bail out bankers than should be jailed.

No, Africa needs to find its own path.  Like Asia.

I’m not saying that Africa should emulate any Asian countries.  Instead, the people here (and overseas as well) need to recognize that a Zambian socioeconomic system should be different from a Ghanaian socioeconomic solution.  Just like no one expects Japan or China to have similar government policies, African countries deserve the same respect as well.


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