Mon, Jul 09, 2012 - Page 9 News List

Adjusting the point of view: rising Africa as economic dynamo

By Nicholas Kristof  /  NY Times News Service, MASERU, LESOTHO

Some of the otherwise most impressive countries in Africa, like Rwanda, also undermine themselves with their political repression.

Ethiopia’s dictator, Meles Zenawi, is doing an excellent job of raising health and living standards, but he also presides over a security service that kills and rapes with impunity — and imprisons journalists who report on abuses.

Last week, a sham trial in Ethiopia found one such brave journalist, Eskinder Nega, guilty of terrorism.

All in all, though, Africa is becoming more democratic, more technocratic and more market-friendly.

Yet US citizens are largely oblivious to the idea of Africa as a success story.

One of the problems with journalism is that we focus on disasters. We cover planes that crash, not those that take off. In Africa, that means we cover famine in Somalia and genocide in Sudan, terrorism in Nigeria and warlords in Congo. Those are important stories — deserving more attention, not less — but they can also leave a casual reader convinced that all of Africa is lurching between genocide and famine.

So that is why I decided to start this win-a-trip journey in a delightful country like Lesotho that just had a democratic change of power. Its streets are safe, and it is working on becoming one of the first countries in the world with an electric grid 100 percent reliant on energy from renewable resources.

It is a symbol of an Africa that is rising.

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