Why Africa Might Be the China of the 21st Century
The conventional wisdom about China is that it is an emerging superpower, and that it will be a dominant geopolitical and economic force in the 21st century.
Meanwhile, the conventional wisdom about Africa is that it remains a basket case, mired in poor governance, corruption, tyranny, poor infrastructure, and poor human capital.
I would like to suggest that this is exactly backward.
Let’s take China first. For all its (dubious) growth numbers, it remains a poor country with enormous challenges. These include, but are not limited to, environmental degradation and the great disparities between the poor, rural areas and the rich, urban, coastal areas. Fundamentally, China is not prepared for the 21st century for two major reasons. The first is political: Despite Western punditry’s image of a class of genius technocratic authoritarians who can lead the country’s development, the reality of China’s regime is that its leaders are enormously corrupt. Many are barely hanging on for life, and there is the very real fear that social tensions in the country could degenerate into open conflict at any moment.