Monday, October 5, 2009

There is More to Africa than Hardship

Why isn't anyone telling the good news?' The way most newspapers and TV news tell it, there's little going on in Africa except poverty, famine,  disease, and even genocide. But there's more to Africa than hardship.

And there are growing efforts to try to present a fuller, more rounded picture of this continent to the world.

For example:
• Africa's economies grew by more than 5 percent last year - their biggest expansion in eight years. Central Africa's oil boom spurred 14.4 percent growth for that region.
• Ghana's stock exchange is regularly one of the highest-performing markets in the world; in 2003, it was No. 1, gaining 144 percent, according to one analysis.
• Exports to the US from 37 African nations jumped 88 percent last year, to $26.6 billion. Jeans made in Lesotho are sold in US stores. Also, flowers from Kenya and vegetables from Senegal are regularly available in European shops.
• Use of cellphones and the Internet is growing faster in Africa than anywhere else, according to the United Nations.

These and other statistics are getting more focus amid efforts to boost Africa's image - along with the world's willingness to invest in the continent.

A prominent challenge came this week from Rwandan President Paul Kagame. Speaking in Kenya at the International Press Institute's annual gathering, he defied the media to tell the whole story.

"I urge you to play your role, not merely as watchdogs and whistle-blowers, but as advocates and educators in our joint venture to make Africa ... a better place," he said.

He further argued the negative portrayal hurts Africa's efforts to fix its problems. "One of the reasons why Africa has not been able to attract enough foreign direct investment, which we need for our development, is the constant negative reporting," he added.

By Abraham McLaughlin | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

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