Editor’s Note: April 16, 2019
Why do we generalize about Africa?
“Ivanka Trump lands in Africa.” So starts a headline by Reuters on the White House advisor’s four-day trip to the continent this week. Which of its 54 countries she’s visiting requires further reading – Ethiopia and Côte d’Ivoire.
The former is in East Africa, the other on the West coast. The distance between their respective capitals is about 4,800km, greater than between Lisbon and Moscow.
It’s the kind of generalization the media is regularly chastised for. At best it’s inaccurate, at worst it reinforces ignorance about, and prejudice towards the continent.
Reasonable, but there can be good reasons to generalize.
Investment is a good example.
On their own most African markets struggle to excite international investors – they’re simply too small.
Nigeria, Africa’s biggest economy and oil producer, is smaller than Norway. Ethiopia’s $83bn economy is only slightly larger than the Dominican Republic.
In this context it can be useful, and necessary, to generalize.
As a result GDP and population numbers are often aggregated by region, or across the continent, to put together compelling investment narratives. Terms like “investing in Africa” are as common as the “Africa is not a country” retort to generalization – yet the former is rarely frowned upon.
Generalizing about Africa will always be inaccurate, but it’s not necessarily a bad thing.
From The Continent
Egypt’s parliament will on Tuesday vote on a series of constitutional amendments to extend president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s rule until 2030, and to expand the military’s political influence. This is part of efforts by Sisi, a former general who seized power in a 2013 coup, to further strengthen his grip on the country’s politics. More: The National
South Sudan has secured a $500m financing facility from the African Export Import Bank to fund power, agriculture and infrastructure projects. The oil-rich country is emerging from a crippling five-year civil war following the signing of a peace deal in September 2018. More: Reuters
The Daily Stat
The size of bribes Confederation of African Football head Ahmad Ahmad allegedly instructed officials to pay football association presidents in countries including Tanzania and Cape Verde.More: Reuters
The Global Perspective
Shipbuilding company Privinvest has started legal proceedings against three state-owned companies in Mozambique over alleged contractual breaches. The move is part of a $2bn debt scandal over the 2013/14 purchase of tuna fishing boats, which includes fraud allegations against Privinvest. More: Bloomberg
Russia is planning to send up to 30 military personnel to conflict-hit Central African Republic as part of a U.N. mission aimed at stabilizing the country. This comes amid efforts by Moscow to strengthen economic and political ties with the continent. More: Reuters