Wednesday, August 25, 2010

New book says that Africa will soon be affluent

A new book recently published in France has a very positive outlook on the economy of Sub-Saharan Africa. The book written by a former head of the France agency for economic cooperation says that Sub-Saharan Africa will soon have a very affluent economy. The book points to the environment and climate change as stopping future growth, but critics say the book ignores the problems of education and agriculture.

From the Inter Press Service, writer Julio Godoy introduces us to the new book.

In the book "Le temps de l'Afrique" ("The African Age"), Jean-Michel Severino, until last April director of the French state agency for economic cooperation, and his co-author Olivier Ray argue that sub-Saharan Africa has started the new millennium under far better economic and social circumstances than generally assumed.

To support their thesis that "Africa is rushing towards affluence", as Severino put it in an interview, the authors use the most recent economic and social data, showing rapid economic growth, high investment and sinking poverty.

"The vision that we in Europe have of Africa -- of a continent frozen in poverty and disease -- is simply wrong," Severino declared. "On the contrary, today's sub-Saharan Africa is a region of high economic growth, with numerous business opportunities. Sub-Saharan Africa is now a high speed train rushing towards affluence and prosperity."

Severino recalled that since the beginning of the century, the sub-Saharan African economy "has grown by a yearly average rate of 5.5 percent, against only 1.35 percent in the euro zone".

Severino quoted a recent study by the U.S. National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), which shows that African poverty "is falling rapidly".

The NBER paper, by economist Xavier Sala-i-Martin and his research assistant Maxim Pinkovskiy, predicts that if "the present trends continue, the millennium development goal of halving the proportion of people with incomes less than one dollar a day will be achieved" by 2015.

"We are not nursing dangerous illusions about Africa," Severino told IPS.

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