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Assessing and promoting civil and minority rights in South Africa.

[Source: Graensen Grenzen by Robert Kappel.]

It is becoming increasingly difficult to read the same optimistic and pessimistic analyses about Africa. The repetitions of the old lyre melodies: it goes ahead or it doesn’t go ahead. The reporting on Africa stands for such a dichotomous alphabet, which is boring and does not provide any impetus for a fresh look at the continent. Too many faith healers preach false hopes and galatinize the view to what is feasible. Something has happened in Africa, but many things have developed differently than in other parts of the world. Despite all the fundamental dynamic changes, we cannot currently assume that Africa will catch up. Convergence is not taking place. It is therefore time to revive the postulate of “endogenous development” through selective dissociation measures. Africa needs a different development path from that of catching-up development. The discussions within Africa show how important it is to focus on one’s own strengths, to advance integration within Africa and to shake off asymmetries.

There are many positive things to report about some African countries. A few countries have relatively high economic growth over a few years, like Ethiopia, Rwanda and Tanzania. In some countries there is a demographic transition, such as Mauritius and Cape Verde. Many countries have been able to increase school enrolment rates and others have managed to increase investment. Another positive aspect is the commitment of the African community of states, such as the plan to create an “African Continental Free Trade Area” or the many good ideas for industrializing the continent. The fact that development aid no longer plays such a major role is a sign that Africa wants to make progress on its own.

A positive change is also indicated by rising internal tax revenues of African countries, which are significantly higher than foreign direct investments and remittances. Slightly growing middle classes, increasing investments in infrastructure and a growing interest of investors from China, India, the Gulf States and Turkey in Africa over the last ten years indicate changes. German entrepreneurs are active within the framework of the Compact with Africa and the Marshall Plan with Africa (see Kappel, Reisen 2017; Kappel, Pfeiffer, Reisen 2017) in order to improve the basic conditions for German companies. The growth of a local entrepreneurial class that invests locally also makes it clear that change is taking place in some countries. Perhaps the most crucial thing is the new self-confidence of African elites and a strengthening of civil society. Africa has changed. The many positive developments have led many an observer to speak of the African continent of hope or future.

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South Africa at a Glance
59 620 000 (mid 2020 estimate)
2.2% y/y in June 2020 (CPI) & +0.5 y/y in June 2020 (PPI)
-2.0% q/q (1st quarter of 2020)
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