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Nick Kristof On Africa

Africa rising. New York Times columnist Nick Kristof says it’s coming up fast now. And American business needs to get in the game.

Downtown Lagos, Nigeria. (AP)

Downtown Lagos, Nigeria. (AP)

A lot of Americans have long seen Africa as a vast basket case – beautiful, poor, violent, doomed.  Think again, says my guest today, Nick Kristof of the New York Times.  In the last decade, six of the world’s ten fastest-growing economies – in Africa.  In the next half decade seven of the leading ten, expected to be in Africa.

It’s got huge resources, wide farmlands, factories going up.  China is famously in there like crazy – building, digging, investing.  Could this be the next “tiger,” even with all the woe?

This hour, On Point:  Africa rising, with Nick Kristof.  On the new frontier.

-Tom Ashbrook



Nicholas Kristof, Pulitzer-Prize winning columnist for the New York Times. He is just back from a trip to Africa, where he visited Malawi and Lesotho.

Jordan Schermerhorn, winner of Nicholas Kristof’s win-a-trip competition. She accompanied Nicholas Kristof on his 12-day Africa trip.

From Tom’s Reading List

New York Times “If you want to understand some of the best new ideas to chip away at global poverty, an excellent place to start is the Nasoni family hut here in the southern African nation of Malawi.”

New York Times “Here’s another way to think of Africa: an economic dynamo. Is it time to prepare for the African tiger economy? Six of the world’s 10 fastest-growing economies between 2001 and 2010 were in Africa, according to The Economist. The International Monetary Fund says that between 2011 and 2015, African countries will account for 7 of the top 10 spots.”

Council On Foreign Relations “As global demand for energy continues to rise, major players like the United States, the European Union, and Japan are facing a new competitor in the race to secure long-term energy supplies: China. The economic powerhouse has increasingly focused on securing the resources needed to sustain its rapid growth, locking down sources of oil and other necessary raw materials across the globe.”


Read out more on Africa and the world’s fastest growing economies from the Economist.

The Economist

The Economist

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  • Ed

    The Churches are growing rapidly in Africa also.

    • Margbi

       This may or may not be a good thing.

      • TFRX

        I’m a white suburban northeastern lifer. So I won’t claim anything any knowledge of Africa compared to Kristof or others.

        However, the last thing much of Africa needs, per my opinion, is the Church’s ideas on “reproductive health”. That’s a huge step back.

      • Drew (GA)

        I’m leaning towards not.

    • Mary

      It’s true that Christianity is growing rapidly in Africa, but this growth is led by African church leaders. Unlike the last half-century, Christianity is no longer being imposed from outside. In fact, to address Catholicism specifically, the demographics of the Vatican are changing as the number of African and Asian bishops continue to grow. Catholics could have an African Pope someday!

      • Drew (GA)

        Nice. I think you just made ed’s head explode.

      • Guest

        The last half-century? What century are you living in? No Europeans have been imposing Christianity on Africans in a long time. In case you haven’t checked, the colonial era was effectively ended in the ’60s. Islam, however, is making ground. Just ask the Nigerians and Malians. And it’s being imposed by the friendly locals, too! 

  • Siva

    With China, India and other countries buying vasts of farm land in Africa, are we slowly returning to colonial era ? What is your judgment Mr. Kristoff ?

  • Alex ra

    First Cecil Rhodes with Debeers Diamond mining starts his vision of an anglo-american empire with the jacking of Africa’s natural resources. He later starts The Royal Institute of International Affairs to carry on that vision with a branch in the U.S called the Council on Foriegn Relations which you reference. The fraud of Kony 2012 to garner public sympathy in order to militarize the region under false pretenses of humanitarian aid.” Libya’s oil secured and Gadafi out of the way. Now, Kristof urges American businesses to come plunder Africa further? What a disgusting human being Nicholas Kristof is.

  • Gregg

    I appreciate Mr. Kristoff’s acknowledgment of the work GWB has done for Africa.


  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

     For Africans to succeed, they will have to get control of their disease burden.  They will also have to decide either to return to tribal borders or leave tribalism entirely behind.

  • md

    It’d be really cool to get an African guest or two to talk about, uh, Africa.

    • Drew (GA)

      Exactly. What would Mr. Mandela say?

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    “Fastest growing” doesn’t by itself say much, since those nations have so far to go to catch up.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

    21st century colonialism – with economies going sour, expect a big return to limited prosperity via stealing 3rd world resources.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

      one example – Angola committing its oil resources to allow China to build “ghosts cities”, huge real estate projects that most Angolans could never afford to live in:


  • jim

    Correct… with the help of China and exclusively China. I bet Nick would agree with me. you know why? Unlike US and Europe, China does look not down at the nations of Africa.

    Of course… there are be some sacrifices.. including human rights and pollution.

    • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

      Look down?  Don’t you mean that China doesn’t ask anyone else to improve?

      • Luftstalag13

        Improve yourself first, set a good example and people will follow you, instead of the “do as I say but not as I do” hypocritical BS you see everyday from the west.

        • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

          Our record of human rights is significantly better than China’s.

          • jim

            I am not disagreeing with you. however, this is the only point i would agree with you. do you think think the US would even make any attempt to help poor nations in Africa or South America like China and improve their living standard? i don’t think so.

            US would only foot its nosey behind if it can exploit other people’s interest. 

          • Drew (GA)

            Hegemony or Bust, yep, that’s us.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Margaret-Sturman/1426819921 Margaret Sturman

            The US motivation is gree, China’s is world power, not universal love. Our loss. We have a lousy foreign relations track record.

    • Still Here
      • jim

        yah… but with rising GDP growth, there will be some abuse in labour practice. when the US grew exponentially in the 20s and 30s… you think we do not have labour abuse? we had PLENTY.

        • Drew (GA)

          And we still have plenty, it’s just been wearing a happy face lately.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Margaret-Sturman/1426819921 Margaret Sturman

      Small sacrifices, I’m sure. Right?

  • Drew (GA)

    Does exploitation equal investment?

  • jeff ritter

    I agree. the resources are incredible and the people are enthusiastic and ambitious…the people in power, however, still thinking short term – even Kagame, who has been among the best, is acting despotic. Where will the pressure come from to improve if we just go for the profits?

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    Other than to be a cheerleader for a point of view, what role does Schermerhorn play in this?

    • Drew (GA)

      Surely you don’t imply that an all expenses paid trip would generate bias. lol

      And I hate to go down this road but I’m sure the fact that Jordan Schermerhorn is very attractive didn’t play into her being declared a “winner”.

      Don’t bother attacking me anyone, I’m just stating my opinion. I could
      be wrong, I spend the majority of my time hoping that I am (wrong).

      • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

        I just saw the picture–yup, your suspicions make much sense.

        • Alex

          As someone who goes to school with Jordan, she not only is at the top of her class at Rice University of all places, but her senior design project as a bioengineer (which goes towards helping save infants’ lives in the hospitals of third world nations) is en route to being commercialized. Looks did not get her her grades nor did they design her project for her. 

          • Guest

            It’d be even better is someone would develop a truly effective family planning technique that would allow African women to have as few children as they want, rather than being saddled with a half-dozen kids with no prospect of an education or a job. 

        • Owl

          Greg, you do realize that because of your claim that Jordan got where she is due simply to looks that this is not only sexist, but makes it harder for females to exist in fields like science, right? 

        • Jim

          You both sound like great guys. “Hey, I disagree with somebody, so let’s attack her for being a woman, and probably having gotten something because of her looks.” Right. That’s intelligent discourse. Well done gents!
          The fact that you would accuse an incredibly intelligent and talented young lady for being biased and discounting her capabilities is frankly disgusting. She is actually working on developing real solutions to problems in Africa, while most people sit around and waste time moaning. Also she was chosen by Nick Kristof, a New York Times columnist. In case you wee unaware, which it seems like you might be, they have a very strong tendency to work with extraordinary opinions. You only need to be able to read Ms. Schermerhorn’s posts to see that she fits that role perfectly. But instead of doing any sort of background reading on her, you imply in some underhanded manner that her being an attractive woman helped her win, both besmirching her name and that of Mr. Kristof.
          Drew I will honor your comment. I won’t attack you. There’s no point. It’s quite foolish to do so frankly. But I’ll tell you this. You’re wrong. Completely. If you keep hoping that you’re continuously wrong, maybe it’s because you need to redefine the way you think.

          • Drew (GA)

            I try to redefine the way I think every day.

            I wasn’t attacking anyone, I was serious about hoping that it wasn’t the case. You can verbally assault me if you like, I won’t mind. I’m not being a smart*** I’m serious. I intended no offense to anyone, I was just commenting on how it came across after reading the details of the competition and a general going over of what info I could get my hands on.

            I honestly intended no insult to Jordan Schermerhorn, I’m certain she’s as talented and driven as she is lovely.

            And the bottom line: Beautiful people do have an advantage in this world and especially in this country. Always have, always will. I don’t say this to diminish anyone’s accomplishments, I think I’m pretty On Point though.

          • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

             I didn’t disagree with her.  She didn’t say anything other than an echo of Kristof.  My original point was to wonder what she added to the conversation.  I’d have preferred someone who would challenge the main theme of the show.

          • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

            In addition, my other comment was directed more at Kristof, questioning his motives, not at Schermerhorn.

          • Drew (GA)

            That was my underlying thought as well. Even more to the point I thought that it might not have consciously affected Mr. Kristof’s decision. I didn’t do a very good job of laying it out though and understand why some saw it as denigrating to Ms. Schermerhorn.

    • Jordan Schermerhorn

      Zero, in this piece – no economic background whatsoever. But thanks.

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    How much was the Ghanaian paid to say that?  Or were there Chinese gunmen off camera offering him “encouragement”?

    • Luftstalag13

      Geez, look at what self-righteousness and ignorance have done to people. If certain things don’t fit the typical profile that American and western media describe, it must be fake.

      • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

        You haven’t paid enough attention to commercials, Col. Klink.

        • Luftstalag13

          What a troll you are.

          • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

            Curious how the word “troll” means anyone who disagrees with your point of view.  But you replied to me, not the other way around, so who’s the troll here?

  • Ellen Dibble

    It’s encouraging to hear about the  entrepreneurship, and governments becoming more efficient, less corrupt.  How is it China managed that?  They brought in just the right amount of expertise and money?  

       I do worry that American investment and institutions could bring the worst about explosive growth, the kind that sort of bought Egypt’s military and its military footprint in commerce (as I understand it), of the sort of corporate footprint that manifested itself in Libya after Khaddafi sort of came to heel (sort of).
       Maybe slow growth is the best, grassroots growth, with minimal profit-seeking inputs from American corporate money.

  • ToyYoda

    Wait!  Africa can’t grow too fast.  America needs to massively expand its Navy to extend American influence into Africa and to deal with any potential threat to American interests and allies like the Canary Islands.  It will take a lot of carriers and battleships to surround this large continent.  But, boy, we got the military complex to deal with it!!

    • Guest

      Great point! And how insidious are those American military peacekeeping trainers and the military professionalization programs and the human rights training that accompanies it all? Especially the American military equipping and training to help enforce laws protecting local fisheries from Asian factory ships. I bet the Americans just want all those fish for themselves! 

  • Pat

    The developed countries are investing in Africa because it is the least exploited continent. Where do we go after it has been thoroughly pillaged? I hope you discuss the huge agricultural land grab by developed countries who are anticipating not being able to feed their own citizens. Exponential economic and population growth are steering the planet toward collapse. I highly recommend the devastating book Wasted World, How Our Consumption Challenges the Planet, by Rob Hengeveld. Also The Land Grabbers: The New Fight Over Who Owns the Earth by Fred Pearce.

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    So the next wave of spam will be Nigerian entrepreneurs looking for us to invest in their companies?

  • Ellen Dibble

    One thinks of the large factories that American corporate money can afford to simply close down and move elsewhere.  This is tough even here in this well-established huge wealthy country.  But imagine a factory plunked down in Africa, staying for a couple of decades, and then being outsourced elsewhere.  Thanks, but no thanks?

  • J__o__h__n

    I thought Bono had fixed everything. 

    • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

       People went to a Bono speech, and a concert broke out.

  • Ellen Dibble

    Wasn’t there an open trade bit of legislation in Congress, and they stalled and stalled, and meanwhile tens of thousands of workers in Africa lost their jobs.  It meant less tariff income for us, so it probably was a political football.  I think Kristof  wrote about that.

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    Uh, Caller, you obviously know little about Arkansas.  The University of Arkansas is one of the top ranked schools in many fields.

  • Ellen Dibble

    I checked out some of the politicians in Nigeria over the weekend, and in little more than a decade, they have been scrambling, with the idea of democratic noncorrupt government, maneuvering this way and that.  It reminds me a bit of the first decade of American history.  I could put out a few names.  They are not so tribal that they aren’t casting around for best methods.

  • http://www.facebook.com/allisonwilliamshill Allison Williams

    Please discuss the treaties African nations had to sign preventing them from using their raw materials for manufacturing in order to be “free”?  This was recently exposed on Democracy Now.org. Will the African continent become the new Haiti?

  • John McMillin

    Any thoughts of a new marketplace in the North African region and the Mediterranean states? Italy, Greece, Libya, Egypt, Israel, Lebanon, to name a few countries in transition economically. 

    • John McMillin

      and politically

  • Ellen Dibble

    Someone is calling from Chicago, looking for 50 percent return in Nigeria, building hotels.  Well, I’m in favor of fleecing tourists, versus fleecing the local populace.  So long as that 50 percent is not coming out of Nigerians, looking for better housing.  That is the kind of explosive growth that gives America a bad name.

    • Been there

      Are you a bitter person? Why wish ill upon others? Having lived and traveled in Africa, I can tell you it’s not the locals who get fleeced. I do know of countless instances of visitors being led off, robbed, swindled, harassed. You really should take a trip someday.

  • Janet

    must seriously object to Nick’s comment that Rwanda is not corrupt and a good
    place to invest. Anyone who has spent time there working for a business
    enterprise or NGO can tell about the enormous problems encountered in starting
    and carrying out business. The government must have a significant say and cut
    of the business in order for your business or NGO to be allowed to operate. If
    you do not give in their demands, you will find your visa and business or NGO
    permits revoked. I have known expats who have had to literally flee in the
    night to Uganda because false charges were brought against them by the
    government after they publically denounced the government’s
    corruption. This is one of many stories I could tell you.


    as someone with so much experience traveling in Africa you should know better
    than to make sweeping proclamations about the viability of business in a place
    after a brief, carefully orchestrated stop over!

  • Michiganjf

    I’m constantly amazed by how much smarter than the U.S. China is in its approach to securing much needed resources in the developing world.

    China pays the world market rate for resources and invests as exchange, saving China from an absurdly bloated military and having to fund countless, bankrupting military expeditions… the exact Opposite of the traditional strategy employed by the West to secure resources!

    Why are Chinese politicians so much smarter than those in the West???!!

    • Tomfen210

      Because…..they are Chinese.

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    American companies are hobbled by being legally banned from paying bribes.

    • Michiganjf

      Yeah boy! We know how THAT stops them!

  • Ellen Dibble

    Journalists are so focused on what country is going to be spouting 50 percent profits — the story is about cultures accommodating to new global realities.  It’s about political strivings that start at the grassroots, and is very difficult to understand and track, even after many years.  But we need to try to find a way to understand.  It’s more about stability and slow metamorphosis than about tiger like or phoenix like transformations.  

  • Pat

    South Sudan has already sold/leased large parts of its prime farmland to foreign investors–who are these officials with this authority and who is benefitting from the land transfers?

  • Mbuguji

    It has been widely reported that China and Chinese companies do not peg any of their investments on human rights and democracy as the West may sometimes do. Surely, the despots must be thrilled by this.  

  • Garet Nelson

    Hello — I share Nick’s ambivalence about “investing” in Africa. Having visited Kenya and seeing first hand how waves of Europeans – English, Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese exploited Africa was heartbreaking. I hope investment will be beneficial to the poor and working class – not just for corporation interests.

  • Skinoffcampaign

    Chinese are building highways in Kenya doing, recycling business and mining all over Africa. Why dont American companies take some of these jobs!

  • Pat

    The Chinese investments in stadiums, etc. are not philanthropy. They will reap a lot more than they’ve sown.

    • Guest

      Exactly right. The Chinese are building public infrastructure to make the government authorities happy so that they can have a freer hand in stripping the natural resources and ignoring human rights.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

    The “follow the money” portion of this conversation was very 1 dimensional. Endless talk about the Chinese investment – but how much of that is American investor dollars? Investing is a global practice these days, maybe it’s just American investors are no longer investing in American companies? And that American companies are no longer investing in stateside companies and workers?

  • David Doubleday

    Interesting that the Russians and Chinese were very active in Africa during the 60′s and 70′s but with a “Cold War” geo-political and diplomatic emphasis. Now over the last many years, Russia & China are again very active in Africa but with an ambitious and agrressive open market free trade economic approach. Again, European and US companies have been both reticent and myopic with regard to African opportunities as they struggle to survive in the current glocal economic challenges in their core regions of inlfuence.  It will be the BRIC countries, Brasil, Russia, India China and soon Turkey that these entrepreneurial adventuers and pioneers supported on many levels by their governments who have discovered economic power is more influential than the political.

  • Ellen Dibble

    Outside investors, at least American ones, take their pound of flesh, as I believe Shylock, the usurer, in Shakespeare’s Merchant of  Venice put it.  Resentment of this level of, um, sponsorship, patronage, investment, aid, was what led to the Boston Tea Party and the American Revolution, wherein we said that we wanted to keep our profitability at home — i.e., not to have that pound of tax, I mean flesh, extracted by King George and the  Empire.  Nowadays, the “empire” is deeply moneyed powers, in America, in Europe, in China.  It hasn’t proved a winning formula in many ways.  

    I’m not hoping American money that we need to build factories and jobs here at home will look at the possibilities of losing certain corporate tax loopholes and take all that money we hear we’re awash in and build the likes of  Staples, American built, without much regard for the tens of thousands of local office supply businesses displaced — sprout those all over the continent.  We’re working so hard to get back to grassroots, entrepreneurial, community-based businesses here, to the extent possible free of banks and other Big Foot investors.  I do not wish that on Africa.

    • Guest

      If you’d ever been to Africa and looked for something you needed in the mass confusion and aggression of the public markets, you’d appreciate the value of efficient and predictable business models. Or maybe you wouldn’t. I seriously doubt you’ve ever been anywhere on the continent. 

  • Bbm_miller

    Not muhh mention of Main One Cable founded by a Nigerian woman Funke(Cathy) Opeke a former Verizon exec with an engineering degree from Columbia. Bringing connectivity to Africa. Some go to work-some make history. –BMM

  • Pat

    I try to filter news stories through my awareness of climate change and resource depletion–sure gives a person a different perspective.

  • http://youngworldinventors.com/ Diane

    THANK YOU for the show. Nick and Jordan need to know about what’s happening in high tech in Nairobi, where the worldwide application of the open source crisis management tool Ushahidi was designed by Kenyan youth, with international funding.  Enviable incubators of young startups are growing legs at iHub in Nairobi. Investors are noticeably increasing, for a year.

    I document a startups in East Africa in a webisode series, youngworldinventors.com — some started by idealist US youth working with smart young Africans eager to apply new skills.The cynical self-righteousness of some of postings below is curious. Let’s get real. America is failing in countless ways our politicians are not seriously discussing — education, health, infrastructure, jobs, the highest prison population in the world, mostly black. And political corruption? Congress is on the dole as mouthpieces for big business. Are we promoting our failed systems in Africa? For two years I’ve shot stories in East Africa. Social change is happening; grassroots smarts will make it. Charity has created corruption there, as Dambisa Moyo says.

  • Cameo from Charlotte, NC

    I’m reading Ha-Joon Chang’s “Bad Samaritans” and I’m wondering how free trade as a pathway to economic strength fits into this discussion. Generally, Chang argues that even though the US, UK and other developed countries claim that free trade is how you achieve national economic success, our histories actually show that protectionist policies are what enabled industrialization and innovation. Are Africans buying into the free trade fad?

  • Tina

    “Economic Dynamism”:  manufacturing tee-shirts in Africa that could be sold in Nordstrom’s in the USA?  I usually applaud everything that Nicholas Kristof says, but this lack of broader vision is extremely troubling to me!!!  Thruout the less developed world, there are crafts technologies that are practiced with the highest quality standards and with unbelievable imaginative delivery of themes and concepts.  WHY can’t a “global economy” call upon people in these countries to continue to do what they have done, broadening the “gene pool” of products, rather than reducing the “market” to the lowest common denominator of cheap, American imagination-less products?  There are even manufacturing techniques in these traditional products which could be taught to the “developed” world, in part because many of them make use of “green” materials and techniques and underlying understanding that we can only dream about!  

    I have several books on traditional African crafts, many of which are still practiced today within African societies.  Unfortunately, I am not near those books right now to be able to give you all the titles.  I AM near a book on India which I can name, and which is exemplary of what I am describing:  Handmade in India:  A Geographic Encyclopedia of Indian Handicrafts. 

    We HAVE to think about economies differently!  It may be that “cheaper” should not hold the utmost value.  It may be that the values of craft should be supreme, creating happy workers who know their technologies well enough to take the word “traditional” out of its potential for stipheling (sp?) innovation, instead using craft to scale work to human scale, to community scale while still making the products available to a wider audience! Before we have people who have understood everything able working with bamboo start making cheaper tee-shirts, let’s think about how much knowledge of craft AND materials will be lost in the process!!!

    • Tina

      AND, I meant to imply that this knowledge of traditional crafts could ADD to entirely NEW ventures, new products informed by the ancient wisdom!!!  

      • Drew (GA)

        Unfortunately we don’t care about the most beneficial products, we care about the most profitable ones.

  • Jennifer Haviland

    Much of America’s lack of initiate in countries of Africa begins with our arrogance and uneducated view of an area of the world that is rich in heritage,culture and initiative. First we are not educated about the 56 individual countries that make up the continent…even in your On Point program it was always “Africa” yet you talked of India, an individual country , people don’t talk of North America why do African countries not get the same respect. Our education system teaches that this is “the dark continent” and it is backward and still living in the “dark ages” I lived in Ghana in the 1980″s and can’t tell you how many Americans  asked me if “they” live in trees.. Our ignorance and arrogance keeps us from learning from and developing with these diverse and rich cultures and people and until we practice a mutually beneficial form of capitalism we should stay away because we do more harm than good in this area of the world.

    • Drew (GA)

      “Our ignorance and arrogance keeps us from learning from and developing with these diverse and rich cultures and people and until we practice a mutually beneficial form of capitalism we should stay away because we do more harm than good in this area of the world.”

      A mutually beneficial form of Capitalism? I’m afraid there is no such thing. Capitalism breeds victimization. I really liked your comment though.

    • Been there

      You are guilty of your own criticism. Africa consists of 54 countries, not 56. 

  • Heaviest Cat

    At least Kristof is honest enough to say that it’s all about American corporations capitalizing on Africa. Were any questions raised about the “free-market” as a solution to problems of African nations?

    • Overseas

      Yeah, business is usually concerned with making a profit. Guess they’d be out of business otherwise. 

  • Overseas

    Don’t be too simplistic about Africa and US business. I lived and traveled around the continent and the Chinese aren’t pursuing the same goals as the US government or businesses. The Chinese are importing very low quality plastic and metalwares, things the US really doesn’t make at the lowest end of the market. The US products that have a shot at making money are energy production facilities, communications and engineering projects. 
    American companies must comply with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. The Chinese most certainly do not. The US government vigorously promotes good governance. The Chinese do not. 
    It is important to acknowledge the real limitations on investment in Africa – lack of an educated workforce, intermittent electricity, very burdensome labor laws that are adhered to in ways that are disadvantageous to investors… Botswana is setting itself up for failure with heavy dependence on diamonds that will run out in the next 20 years, possibly, and no economic diversification. Not to mention those labor laws again. 

  • Harlan F. Lang

    We published a directory in 1982, Doing Business in Africa. Harlan Lang. We had Ford Founation and Ford Motor Co. involved, as well as Nigeria Assn. and its leadership, etc. Directory included profilles of  all the countries. We sold the book to American Libraries mostly.

    Comment: your 800 number did not work. Sent me to O and then hung up.  Also, include regular email format for us old guys. Harlan F.Lang, hlang525@verizon.net       A Springfield, MA native, American International College; Syracuse U. Grad School, Journalism, 59. Former DNC staffer, and so much more.

    • wavre

      Next time Tom, please find some African Scholars or journalists with divergent point of views to have a discussion on Africa.

       They exist(plenty!)they have tone of books on the subject(first hand knowledge!).They’re not “invisible” you know. Let’s stop disrespecting the human beings of an entire continent by debating about their predicaments over their heads, like if they were not able to talk about themselves and their challenges!
      We all know that Corporate greed(mostly western and chinese) has a lot to do with the sorry state of today’s Africa.The assassinations along the years of most of their progressives and nationalist leaders had little to do with the Cold War dynamic…

  • http://www.popularlogistics.com/ L J Furman

    Three flaws in Mr. Kristof’s analysis:

    1: Not all growth is good or beneficial. As is the case throughout Africa, in the Middle East, South America, Canada, West Virginia, the Gulf of Mexico, exploitation of natural resources, particularly energy resources, tends to concentrate wealth in the hands of very few individuals and tends to disperse large amounts of very toxic materials into the biosphere.

    2: As we are seeing in the US and India, agriculture that relies on artificial fertilizers and pesticides requires increasing amounts of fertilizers, pesticides and water. This is great for the companies that sell the fertilizers and pesticides and for those who control access to water. It’s not that great for the farmers, farm workers or people who would eat the produce.

    3: Growing food is incompatible with mining and drilling and operating oil or gas wells.

    As was discussed on the show and in the comments, good governance is the key.  But good governance doesn’t happen magically, easily or overnight.

  • wavre

    Next time Tom, please find some African Scholars or journalists with divergent point of views to have a discussion on Africa.

     They exist(plenty!)they have tone of books on the subject(first hand knowledge!).They’re not “invisible” you know. Let’s stop disrespecting the human beings of an entire continent by debating about their predicaments over their heads, like if they were not able to talk about themselves and their challenges!
    We all know that Corporate greed(mostly western and chinese) has a lot to do with the sorry state of today’s Africa.The assassinations along the years of most of their progressives and nationalist leaders had little to do with the Cold War dynamic…

  • ND

    I am originally from Guinea and was there in december and saw the famou stadium that the chinese build for us, the only problem is that China brought their own workers and did not train any Guineans to help with the building of the stadium, how are we supposed to go forward when the west and east take their skills back with them when they leave us…the only reason Africa is rising is because of the handouts and once they all leave, we are left with infrastrutures that need maintenance that our own citizens cannot keep up with..

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Margaret-Sturman/1426819921 Margaret Sturman

    Really Tom?, Getting all excited about the possibility of outsourcing more jobs? All the corporations are looking for is a new place to do business in where they can obtain really cheap labor to beat out the competition. Not good for us and not good for them. And before you bring up the tired old “jobs americans don’t want to do” keep in mind all the perfectly good airline reservation and customer service call center jobs that are now gone to other countries so the airlines can keep more of their money. And no, they are not passing the savings on to the consumer.

    • Drew (GA)

      Pass savings on to consumers? BLASPHEMER! lol
      Nice comment.

  • Tagubajones

    Was this story pegged to anything beyond Kristoff’s trip? Kind of a lite program. Also, would have been nice to invite the guy who wrote that great extended piece (rather than a column) in Fast Company about China in Africa. 

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