East, West, North and South— An essay on Africa if I was 13 .
For about a century, the African continent has been opening up positively across many frontiers. From expansions in trade and improvements in educational capacity to the development of homegrown technology companies; the continent once shaken by struggles for freedom and post independence civil wars has now largely settled down to the task of building an region that is second to none globally in terms of possibilities. As the dust of military led politics and unfavorable legacy institutions has settled, what is now being reveal is a rather amazing economic and social landscape.
The realities obtainable on ground across the continent are as diverse as the large number of cultures that color its rich and dynamic geographic canvass. While the Southern end of the continent has mostly anglophone and vastly modernized economies like those of South Africa, Namibia, and Botswana; the North has large swathes of Arabic speaking and conservative social communities with economies driven by legacy (but no less dynamic) industries like oil & gas and tourism. East Africa having witnessed some of the worst dictatorships and tribal conflicts on the continent has in the more recent years proven to be the beautiful flower that sprouts after the forest has been burnt down. With Kenya and Rwanda leading the way in technology adoption and the creation of ecosystems, the possibilities that lie in these mind driven synergies look set to be fully exploited with returns for both present and future generations.
“West Africa has always been a salad of fortunes since independence became an accessible commodity for African states”
And then, there’s West Africa, the part of the continent with the most Western footprint. West Africa has always been a salad of fortunes since independence became an accessible commodity for West African states. With Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy sitting just a border away from Niger and Chad some of the poorest countries in the world. The contrast of states across the western African shoreline is further revealed in soft issues like migration patterns, demographic data dynamics and the internal wealth distribution of individual nations within the region. West Africa regardless, arguably holds more wealth than any other region on the continent (both in form of present cash and future money). The region plays host to some of the largest industries and chunks of foreign investments on the continent. With a mixture of Anglophone, Francophone and minor language cultures shared between diverse social and religious views. Indeed if Africa was a painting, it would have more colors than flora of the Amazon.
“Africa has always been a source of intrigue and interest to many. A haven of inspiration to some, a frontier of investment to others. The simple truth is there is no one story that describes all of Africa — A pound in one place, a dollar in another.”
The problems on the continent are real. Poverty and inequality remain rooted in the daily realities of people across many countries. With democratic institutions and social provisions that cannot be classified as among the strongest in the world, it takes a brave and intelligent soul to navigate this continent of beauty. Africa is a faithful partner; it holds its risk and pays its rewards. Ultimately, the best treasures of Africa lie beyond the reach of mining excavators or drilling rigs. It lies on the minds of its people. Some good, some bad, but many of whom are truly unique difference makers.