Africa has since the end of the 1970s been called the hopeless continent. The recent economic growth is producing a different picture, and many now speak of 'Africa on the Rising' or 'Lions on the move'. Outgoing NAI Research Director, Fantu Cheru, calls for a more balanced perspective.
Fantu Cheru is editor of the 'Economic Report on Africa 2012' produced by the UN Commission for Africa (UNECA) and the African Union (AU), which findings he presented at his farewell lecture at the Nordic Africa Institute on September 24th .
− Africa still exports raw materials without any manufacturing. Moreover, the exports are mainly drawn from nature resources which don’t require a large labor force. Africa is experiencing a jobless growth, says Fantu Cheru.
Head of Africa Department at the London School of Economics, Thandika Mkandawire, was discussant at the lecture and emphasized that growth in Africa is not based on production.
− In many African cities we see big shopping malls being built next to closed down industries. It is merely a consumption boom which is not sustainable, says Thandika Mkandawire.
Fantu Cheru recognizes two important challenges Africa has to deal with in order to also create welfare drawn from the growth.
− Infrastructure in African countries is worse than in other developing countries. This means that transports and other costs are more expensive. Also, quality of education is generally low throughout the continent. Investment in human capital is essential, says Fantu Cheru.