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Matt Ridley is the author of provocative books on evolution, genetics and society. His books have sold over a million copies, been translated into thirty languages, and have won several awards.

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Africa's Boom

From The Economist comes news that does not surprise me and reinforces my view, aired in mydebate with Bill Gates, that pessimism about Africa is overdone and trade is transforming Africa for the better:

AFRICA has made a phenomenal leap in the last decade. Its economy is growing faster than that of any other continent. Foreign investment is at an all-time high; Senegal has lower borrowing costs than Ireland. The idea of a black African billionaire-once outlandish except for kleptocratic dictators-is commonplace now. At the same time an expanding African middle class (similar in size to those in India and China) is sucking in consumer goods. Poverty, famine and disease are still a problem but less so than in the late 20th century, not least thanks to advances in combating HIV and malaria.


Africa's mood is more optimistic than at any time since the independence era of the 1960s. This appears to be a real turning point for the continent. About a third of its growth is due to the (probably temporary) rise in commodity prices. Some countries have been clever enough to use profits to build new infrastructure. The arrival of China on the scene-as investor and a low-cost builder-has accelerated this trend. Other Asian economies are following its lead, from Korea to Turkey.

Despite admitting this, The Economist's anonymous blogger then gets all sniffy with the authors of a book called Africa's Moment for their "boosterism".