Africa: Post-Mandela

After Mandela, a look at the challenges and opportunities of sub-Saharan Africa.

Spectators shelter under umbrellas as the rain lashes down during the memorial service for former South African president Nelson Mandela at the FNB Stadium in Soweto, near Johannesburg, South Africa, Tuesday Dec. 10, 2013. (AP)

Spectators shelter under umbrellas as the rain lashes down during the memorial service for former South African president Nelson Mandela at the FNB Stadium in Soweto, near Johannesburg, South Africa, Tuesday Dec. 10, 2013. (AP)

The body of Nelson Mandela lies in state today in Pretoria. Three more days of public honor before the great man’s funeral on Sunday.  But all around in his native South Africa and across the continent of Africa, Mandela’s passing frames the past and future.  Africa – sub-Saharan Africa – is once again seen as a great frontier.  Not the old-time colonial frontier of brute exploitation.  But, with some luck and lots of effort, a frontier of African rise.  Africa’s economy is now growing faster than any other continent’s.  This hour On Point:  Africa after Mandela.

— Tom Ashbrook


Sean Jacobs, editor of the blog Africa is a Country. Assistant professor of international affairs at the The New School’s Milano School of International Affairs, Management, and Urban Policy. Editor, “Thabo Mbeki’s World: The Politics and Ideology of the South African President.” (@AfricasACountry)

Vera Songwe, World Bank country director for Senegal, Cape Verde, Gambia, Mauritania and Guinea-Bissau and lead economist. Non-resident fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Africa Growth Initiative.

Jonathan Bermansenior fellow at Columbia University. Blogger at the Harvard Business Review. Author of “Success in Africa: CEO Insights From a Continent On the Rise.” (@Jonathan_Berman)

From Tom’s Reading List

Wall Street Journal: Mandela’s Death Takes Heat Off Zuma — “It is a sharp turnabout for a president who has been under fire during much of his nearly five years in office. The most recent public flap relates to a probe by the government’s anticorruption watchdog into a $20 million security upgrade at his rural home in the village of Nkandla, in KwaZulu-Natal province. South African lawmakers accuse the president of lying about the upgrades and have threatened a motion of impeachment if the watchdog, the Public Protector, finds that Mr. Zuma used public money for nonsecurity improvements at his home.”

Foreign Affairs: A Cure for Africa’s Common Cold — “The main challenge is coalescing political will to do the job. Despite its tremendous burden on affected societies, malaria, in the most heavily infected places, is considered a ‘relatively minor malady,’ in the words of a 2003 World Health Organization (WHO) report. That might seem counterintuitive, but it is a matter of simple risk perception. In places such as Malawi, where the average rural villager receives hundreds of bites from malaria-infected mosquitoes a year, a child might suffer 12 episodes of malaria before the age of two.”

The Atlantic: Is China Transforming Africa? — “There are both very positive and negative aspects to the Chinese presence in Africa. I think arguments that China’s involvement in Africa is a form of neo-colonialism are both simplistic and prejudiced, but there also plenty of people looking at Chinese economic and political ties to Africa through rose-tinted glasses. It is certainly refreshing for African countries to deal with an enthusiastic new global player with deep pockets and little interest in pushing an ideology. It is up to African political and business leaders to make sure that their own countries do not get a raw deal.”

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