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Africa 2060: what could be driving the good news from Africa?

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PurposeThe aim of this paper is to better understand the good news coming from Africa and reflect on ideas discussed at the "Africa 2060: Good News from Africa" conference in April 2010 organized by Boston University's Frederick S. Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future. Design/methodology/approachAfrica's performance over the last 50 years has been akin to a roller coaster ride of good news followed by bad news, with the bad news dominating. However since the dawn of the millennium Africa's outlook has increasingly become optimistic. As one looks at Africa's future, several questions emerge: which of these gains can be consolidated? Which of the positive trends will be sustained? Has this recent period of global attention provided the continent with a real institutional scaffolding on which a positive future can be built? And what needs to be done to ensure that the dangers of chronic poverty, conflict, and institutional collapse that still lurk in the shadows will be contained long enough that they eventually disappear? FindingsThe authors base their observations on the intense discussions during the conference by practitioners and experts and an engaged and informed audience, plus a broader reading of the literature, including that which was presented at the conference. These observations reflect a locus of expert and informed opinion and provide a window into the priorities that are engaging the imaginations of those thinking deep and hard about Africa's future. The authors distill seven key drivers that are of particular importance in shaping Africa's longer-range future. Of course, all of these can operate in either a positive or a negative direction. It is the decisions that will be made by African and international policy-makers, businesses, civic organizations, and citizens today that will determine which direction Africa will be "driven" towards tomorrow. Originality/valueThere are a number of exciting opportunities that await Africa in its future, but many of these also come with potential hurdles and pitfalls. Innovation, entrepreneurship, technology, knowledge, and globalization are among the areas that have generated significant good news to record from Africa. But within each of these areas there is also the potential and reality of bad news. The choice now lies with African citizens, decision makers and societies as to whether they are able to make the type of decisions that will control the negative tendencies of these drivers and accelerate the positive tendencies.
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Keywords: Africa; Developing countries; Emerging economies

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2011-05-31

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