Dr. Kingsely C. Moghalu, deputy governor of the Nigerian Central Bank recently unveiled his latest book, Emerging Africa: How the Global Economy’s ‘Last Frontier’ Can Prosper and Matter at the Woodrow Wilson Center in the United States (the book was officially launched in Nigeria a few months ago). The book offers a realistic assessment of Africa’s economic development trajectory within the context of contemporary threats and opportunities in the global economy. In other words, he goes beyond the “Africa Rising” mantra to provide a realistic assessment, in his words. Here is a video of his presentation.
Here are some excerpts from his opening line:
“…Africa has caught the imagination of the world, not as a basket case not with kids with flies on their mouths and protruded bellies, but as part of the world where people can legitimately aspire to opportunities… as part of the world where business can be made…where money can be made… in short, a normal part of the world, and that’s good…about time too…
…but as those who love Africa, we have a responsibility to interrogate a number of conventional wisdom(s) that have come out of the new “brand Africa” that has emerged in the last 10 years, but most recently, in the last 5 years…
…So we’ve seen a lot of books about “Africa Rising” “Africa’s Time”, about “Africa’s Turn” and there’s a lot of good feeling going round, and that’s fine. But it’s important to interrogate these conventional wisdom(s)… Africa is at an important inflection point, Africa is at a… fork in the road, it can go this way or that way, it’s at a point of promise, at a point of opportunity, but Africa hasn’t risen yet! Let’s be clear!
I am not here to give you some feel good message like some insurance salesman about how wonderful things have become, or will soon become about Africa. I am here to give you some hard headed, realistic and I believe, informed insight into Africa’s economic prospects in the context of the world economy and in the context of globalisation…”
He also argues for a paradigm shift and the need to develop an “African world view” in the minds of Africans:
“There’s a tendency to discuss Africa not by Africans but by non-Africans, and that’s fine, that’s a legitimate discourse. But Africans also should be part of that discussion, interpreting their continent, interpreting their prospects… their societies, their politics to themselves from their standpoint. There’s too little of this happening.
…Virtually all the books that have defined “Africa’s rise”, the construction of the myth of “Africa Rising” have been engineered, designed, constructed almost completely by non-Africans… When you read these books, there are certain things they tend to focus.”
He talks about a whole lot of things: economic and structural transformation, the imperative of taking the industrialisation- and manufacturing-route to economic development, rather than simply focusing only on services-led development, economic diversification from resource-based economies and so on.
The one thing I can say for now is that based on Moghalu’s track record as a respected academic, an influential policy maker within Nigeria and a development expert at the global level — a person in-the-know — he ought to be taken seriously by Africans and friends of Africa.
I am yet to lay my hands on the book, but if I were to infer on its content from Moghalu’s lecture, then this blog shares his cautious sentiment to “Africa Rising” mantra. Indeed several articles posted here have reflected on some of these ideas. Its not time to celebrate Africa’s “prosperity” just yet, but if we take the right steps at this momentous period, we will celebrate and make merry soon.