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Is Africa Rising?

Rise of Africa
Ian Taylor


Africa is said to be rising, turning a definitive page in its history. African per capita growth figures are relatively high and have now been sustained for a decade or so, constructed on the back of high commodity prices. Analyses thus far have had strong evangelical undertones, suggesting that Africa has turned a corner and that its emergence is imminent. Barely a week passes without a new article, official report, or conference eulogizing the continent and its growth figures. Africa has been called a “rising star” and a global power that “will rule the 21st century.”1 Previous, less positive studies on Africa’s political economy are dismissed as “Afro-pessimism,” to be swept away by “the Ultimate Frontier Market.”2 It is clear that a flip-flop in attitudes regarding the continent has occurred. With minimal critical consideration, the narrative has swung from a portrayal of Africa as a basket case to Africa now being the future. Growth in GDP and opportunities for investors are the new intonations in a crude construction of Africa that has shifted almost overnight.