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The New Africa: Challenges and Hope – January (Discussion Series @ Camden Public Library)

January 5, 2016 @ 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm EST

In our fourth and final session of the Camden Conference New Africa Discussion Series, we shall reflect upon the challenges that confront Sub-Sahara Africa in joining the global community on its own terms.  And we shall examine a set of African-generated initiatives that inspire hope of such inclusion in the near future.   Toward those ends, we will look at evidence suggesting that Sub-Sahara Africa is emerging as a potential economic power and ponder whether pervasive and long-standing cultural, ethnic, economic, political, leadership, and environmental challenges can be overcome. Finally, we will assess whether in-country and regional initiatives currently underway provide beacons of hope for Sub-Sahara Africa’s emergence.


Join us for an evening of unraveling the challenges and the hopes that together are Sub-Sahara Africa.

Suggested readings

Herbst, Jeffrey & Mills, Gary.  “Africa in 2020:  Three Scenarios For the Future” Brenthurst Discussion Papers 2/2006.  (14 pages)

This perspective highlights drivers that will impact the future of Africa—economic growth, population growth, the institutionalization of democracy, the management of conflict, the outcomes of external initiatives, the consequences of Diaspora.—and identifies differing outcomes for Africa as a function of its choices.  Among such choices are the presence or absence of domestic reforms, the development of continental leadership, the reform models provided by the big states, and the emergence of a dynamic private sector.  The call is for a radical departure from the status quo.


Bickersteth, Seyl.  “9 Mega-Trends Shaping the Future of Africa”.  (4 pages)

World Economic Forum, May 28, 2015.

The author identifies escalating birth rates, the rise of the individual, enabling technology, economic interconnectedness, public debt, economic power shifts, climate change, resources stress, and urbanization as large-scale trends that will impact the future economic development of Africa.  Less attention is paid to potential solutions for or interactions among these winds of change.


J.A.  “Hope, and Doubt, South of the Sahara” The Economist. November 22, 2012.  Cassandra, The World in 2014.  (1 page)

Among the bases of hope identified in this short piece with embedded links are reasonably free and fair elections being more widely practiced, a younger generation moving into the workforce, the wealth of natural resources, the population becoming increasingly urbanized, and urban dwellers demanding better governance.  These harbingers of hope are contrasted with doubts engendered by continuous strive together with the lack of democratically elected leaders who govern well, raise living standards, and then voluntarily leave office.


Kasuija, Alan.  “My Africa: The competing visions of Africa’s future” BBC February 10, 2015.  (six pages, including multiple pictures)

Alan Kasuija, reporting for the BBC, returns to his native Uganda to meet with young entrepreneurs aiming to create a “new Africa” while still dealing with the “old Africa”.  The issues of the “new Africa” for entrepreneurs include starting from nothing and paving the way with no template.  Among the challenges of the “old Africa” for young entrepreneurs are dealing with potholes in the roads, finding fast, reliable internet access, getting people to pay you on time, corruption, jobs based on kickbacks, and punishment for failure.  In the 1990s, before cell phones and the internet, starting a business was done just to try to survive.  Today, expectations for entrepreneurial enterprises are more ambitious; indeed, the author reports, some young entrepreneurs acknowledge the need for a Pan-African vision. College graduates in underemployed jobs also are turning their skills to rural business development in their own villages. The mindset of young people, the author concludes, is to take more control of their futures, as compared to the perspectives of their parents’ generation.


PBS, 2015. “Child Marriage:  What We Know”  (3 pages) 

The world’s poorest countries have the highest rates of child marriage.  The impact of child marriage upon infant mortality, health, illiteracy, poverty, HIV/AIDS, mental health, abuse and violence, and isolation and abandonment are identified together with ways in which the education of girls can ameliorate these outcomes.  The broader questions associated with what would change the cultural conditions that might lessen the perceived necessity of child marriage are not tackled.


Background Readings

Moghalu, Kingley Chiedu.  Emerging Africa:  How the Global Economy’s “Last Frontier” Can Prosper and Matter.  London, Penguin Books, 2013.


January 5, 2016
6:00 pm - 7:30 pm EST
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Camden Public Library
55 Main Street
Camden, ME 04843 United States
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(207) 236-3440
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