Academic journal article Population

L'Afrique Est-Elle Si Bien partie?/[Is Africa Actually Getting on So Well?]

Academic journal article Population

L'Afrique Est-Elle Si Bien partie?/[Is Africa Actually Getting on So Well?]

Article excerpt

Sylvie bruneL, L'Afrique est-elle si bien partie ? [Is Africa actually getting on so well?], Auxerre, Editions sciences humaines, 2014, 183 p.

More than ten years ago, Sylvie Brunel, a specialist of development questions and of Africa, published L'Afrique, un continent en réserve de développement [Africa, a continent with great development potential] (Bréal, 2004), in which she put forward all of Africa's assets conducive to rapid development. The title of her new book reveals her current worry: the risk that those assets will be wasted. "The demographic pot is boiling away", "chaos is gaining ground", "the challenges facing the continent today are colossal", she writes.

In the last ten years the spectacular economic growth rates of several African countries seem to have put the continent on the list of "emerging regions": according to World Bank figures, Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, Ghana, Liberia, Niger and Zimbabwe all experienced over 5% growth at least once in the last two years. Capital investments are pouring in; debt is receding (most has been paid off or cancelled) and a "middle class" (by African standards) is emerging, not to mention the unchecked self-enrichment of a small caste.

But all of this may be mere tromp l'oeil. Current growth is fuelled primarily by sales of raw materials (whose prices have skyrocketed) and massive public works programmes, most of which are internationally funded. In fact, extracting raw materials does not create many new jobs, especially given that Africa itself has relatively little in the way of process industries, and the international funds are not always well used - when they are not simply squandered. …

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