Africa: News Good Enough to Bury

Roger Cohen – The New York Times

Copyright The New York Times
An excerpt:
In my lifetime, conditions have grown immeasurably better, freer and more prosperous for a majority of humanity, yet hand-wringing about the miserable remains the reflex mode for most coverage of planet earth.
Nowhere more so than in Africa, from which I’d just returned when the e-mail landed. During a short stay in Ghana, which will hold free elections in December, Vodafone had bought a majority stake in Ghana Telecom for $900 million (entering a fiercely competitive mobile-phone market) and I’d heard much about 6 percent annual growth, spreading broadband and new high-end cacao ventures.
Accra, the capital, is buzzing. Russian hedge funds are investing. New construction abounds. Technology enables people in the capital to text money transfers via mobile phone to poor relatives in the bush.
I don’t think that picture is exceptional these days for Africa, where growth averaged close to 6 percent last year and I sense a fundamental change in attitudes to governance, trade, the private sector and political accountability.
Sure, corruption is still rampant; Omar Bongo has been ruling Gabon for 41 years; Robert Mugabe wants to emulate Bongo; and a commodity boom has helped the numbers. But if averages meant anything, Africa would be a good-news story these days.
Not least, because Africans care about democracy. They know tyranny too well to be tempted by the so-called new authoritarianism.
We’ve heard much — what with the Russian incursion into Georgia and China’s Olympics — of authoritarianism resurgent. It sure doesn’t look that way from Africa.
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