As noted by Collier, "Africa's Moment" has a distinct French perspective; not to say it ignores former English or Portuguese colonies. I found the book balanced in country contribution and relevant to current events and concerns. Indeed, sometimes the English print and media are wholly lacking in the Francophone perspective.
The positive outlook the authors take to the African continent is summed up in the theme "Africa is catching up". Africa is catching up on population growth, thus labor pools, after slavery and colonialism seriously stunted Africa's growth. Africa is catching up on development after colonialism and failed neo-liberal "structural adjustment" agendas imposed their short-sighted ideals. Africa is catching up in the rural to urban migration, which, according to the authors, comes hand in hand with discarding ethnic identities in place of unified prosperity.
"Africa's Moment" is not an example of rigorous micro-academic analysis but instead provides an insight or two into the macro level debates on the state and future of Africa. The book includes chapters on internal migration patterns, foreign investments, the brain drain, the dynamic of religion and of course a re-cap with contemporary data on prevailing geographical, colonial, cultural and neo-liberal theories of development or lack thereof. Each chapter uses a small vignette, an interview or a business example to demonstrate the topic at hand ultimately as a sample to represent the population as a whole. The writing style is not intended to be a quantitative study but instead engage the reader with interesting examples that squarely represent the point.
If Africa is catching up, it has a long way to go to come out of aid and remittance reliance. Example: 20% of Mali's GDP is based on remittances while in the 90s foreign aid was 15% of all of Sub-Saharan Africa's GDP. On the worst side, the DRC's debt in 1997 amounted to 247% of its GDP. On a more positive side countries like Mozambique and Botswana have displayed steady 7% economic growth for over 15 years straight. What is the recipe for success in Africa? Answer; there isn't one. The authors quote a Growth Commission study of Ghana, Mozambique, Burkina Faso, Mauritius and Botswana, all with very different government styles and histories. The conclusion? "There is no best recipe, only good cooks (pg. 169)." In fact all countries suffer from horrible corruption at all levels yet experience positive growth.
Countries which lack security, however, do have it much worse. Lack of security saps initiative or the desire to invest. The lack of motivation cripples all level of the economy down to the subsistence farmer, not willing to invest too much in a small farm for fear of losing it all to thieves or raids.
In one of the final chapters "Africa's Moment" looks at countries like China, Brazil, India, South Korea and the Gulf states and how they invest and interact with Africa's immense potential. It would appear each has a niche in the market or a "comparative advantage" per say. China offers quick, cheap and satisfying development projects. India offers technical expertise along with military training. Brazil is capitalizing on its bio-fuel experiments and signing agri-development agreements. The Gulf states export Islam along with development projects in exchange for farm land. All this is compared with U.S. and EU development efforts tied to cumbersome good governance requirements.
Africa has a population that will possibly expand to 2 billion by 2050. Africa houses the last untapped agricultural breadbasket on which at least Asia will depend. Africa's rich source of minerals and rare earth metals will feed the technology frenzy for years to come. Africa is not looking for imperialistic or colonial masters they are looking for partners. "Africans want to speak of the future as partners - but also of long-term mutual interests (pg. 250)." Condescending strategies may no longer capture the interest of ruling governments. The outlook is positive. It's time to put Afro pessimism away and walk alongside, not in front, of such a rapidly growing continent.