Universiteit Leiden

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The Rise of Africa: Miracle or Mirage

  • Fantu Cheru - African Studies Centre Leiden University
Wednesday 16 November 2016

About the lecture

The story of development in Africa greatly depends on the perspective of the observer. Once called the “hopeless continent”, Africa has become one of the world’s fastest growing economies. More than one-third of Africans live in countries that had grown by more than 4 per cent annually for 10 years, and 18 countries are classified by the World Bank as “diversified and sustained growers”. The new African miracle cannot be attributed to a single factor, but is the result of a combination of internal and external considerations.

While the portrayal of Africa in a positive light is welcomed, there are still many mountains to climb and rough rivers to cross for the continent to achieve structural transformation and inclusive development. African leaders must, therefore, avoid from being seduced by flowery and very optimistic narrative coined by private consulting firms. They should avoid complacency and must remain focused on tackling the key structural bottlenecks that threaten or undermine growth and development. In a rapidly globalized economy, the ability of African countries to chart their own independent development path remains limited. As a new door to economic opportunity is opened to them with the rise of the BRICS, lurking in the background are new risks that Africa must avoid or manage strategically. Greater attention is needed to strengthen the foundations of sustained growth, manage public finances prudently and maintain strong strategic business-government alliances to tackle the constraints on growth and promote employment among the growing and increasingly youthful population.


About the speaker

Professor Fantu Cheru is a SIPRI Associate Senior Fellow with the Mali Civil Society and Peacebuilding Project. He is a Distinguished Research Associate at the North–South Institute in Ottawa, Canada, a Senior Research Fellow at the Center for African Studies at Leiden University in the Netherlands, and Emeritus Professor of African and Development Studies at American University in Washington, DC. He currently serves as a senior external advisor to Ethiopia’s Minister of Urban Development, Housing and Construction. He also serves on the editorial board of a number of academic journals. His articles have appeared in numerous international journals including World Development, the Review of African Political Economy, International Affairs and Third World Quarterly: Global Political Economy.


About the seminars:

Diplomacy and Global Affairs (DGA) Research Seminar Series

The Diplomacy and Global Affairs (DGA) Research Seminar is a series launched by the Research Group on Diplomacy and Global Affairs at the Institute of Security and Global Affairs. The seminars of internationally acknowledged guest researchers and faculty members deal with current research topics in diplomacy, international relations, global affairs, and political economy broadly conceived and target a broad audience through their interdisciplinary focus.

For more information, please contact:

Prof. dr. M.O. Hosli (coordinator)

Dr. J.J. Kantorowicz

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