Leading business publications and business analysts have recently become very optimistic about Africa, noting its high growth rates and enthusing about its potential as the world’s last emerging market. This is in notable contrast with so much writing about Africa from the last century, which often tended to focus on Africa’s perceived failures and on its potential for development rather than on its rather modest achievements at that period. This presentation will argue that Africa is indeed developing, but in ways that few people foresaw. In particular, it is unlikely that many African states, even those with high economic growth rates, will evolve in the directions generally recommended by development experts.
Stephen Ellis is a historian with a broad range of interests in contemporary history and politics. His most recent book, Season of Rains: Africa in the World, is an overview of Africa’s place in contemporary history. In addition to his work at the ASC, Stephen Ellis is the Desmond Tutu Professor of Youth, Sport and Reconciliation at the Faculty of Social Sciences at the VU University, Amsterdam. He is a member of various editorial boards, including that of the journal African Affairs, of which he is a former editor.