Why you should care
Because people in the know are focusing on Africa these days.
Like a lot of people interested in the global economy, the team at OZY is fascinated with Africa. Here are three recent stories that showcase the potential, the possibilities and the problems of the world’s second largest continent.
In a continent where democracy has proceeded in fits and starts, Senegal, on Africa’s western coast, has long been seen as a beacon of hope for the possibilities of civilian rule. This nation of 13.73 million people recently confronted a return to autocratic rule — confronted and rejected it, by voice and pen and not by sword. Today it is a thriving democratic republic with three branches of government and a multi-party system, and Senegal is attempting to build on that democratic momentum under its new leader, Macky Sall.
Liberia has AIDS. It has unemployment. And it has unlimited quantities of raw rubber. You don’t need to be a Princeton professor to spot an entrepreneurial opportunity with social benefits there. Why doesn’t somebody build a condom factory in the tiny West African nation? Professor Gregory van der Vink, who teaches courses on environmental entrepreneurship at Princeton, actually came up with the idea a few years ago while brainstorming socially responsible business ventures in developing nations. Now, van de Vink’s company Terrametrics LLC is trying to get the condom plant off the ground.
Angola could be the richest country in Africa, if it could only pull itself together. While it only has just over 20 million people, and it registers on the radars of very few foreigners, Angola is so rich in oil, diamonds and gold that if it were managed properly, the war-torn coastal country could easily be richer than fellow African nations like Nigeria and South Africa — and perhaps even richer than nations like Iran or Turkey. Its potential is staggering. With an annual GDP of around $114 billion, Angola already has the third largest economy in Africa, is China’s leading supplier of oil, and has been growing at the fastest clip in the world –11.1 percent per year between 2001 and 2010.