ARS 11 in Kiasma is a good place to review our ideas about contemporary African art and culture. But what else is happening in Africa?
1. A continent of a billion people. Africa accounts for 23 percent of the land area of the Earth. If Africa were just one country, it would be the tenth largest economy in the world. Every sixth person in the world is an African.
2. African economy follows China. If we have forgotten Africa, the same cannot be said of Asia and China. The economic development in Africa has begun to follow China, not Europe.
3. The third wave of investment. In colonial times, roads and railways were built to transport raw materials. During the Cold War, the competition was for the souls of African nations. Now we are seeing a third wave of investment, one in which China and Asia are playing a key role.
4. There are many doors to Africa. Economic bonds between Europe and Africa were forged during the colonial period. When we say the word ‘Africa’ we easily think of the most developed country of the continent, South Africa. Among the 54 African states there are many approaches to the continent.
5. The African Union is a real contender. The unified currency, the afro, or the passport union are still far from reality, but integration is advancing. The African Union has been among the first to send peacekeeping missions to crisis areas such as Darfur and Somalia.
6. Good governance equals good economy. Except in the oilproducing countries, good governance, democracy and economic growth go hand in hand, also in Africa. Economic activity is inhibited in countries with poor governance and corruption.
7. A continent of values. One third of all Africans are Christians. Islam is spreading through the Middle East and North Africa. Great world religions come together. Churches and mosques exist side by side in villages and towns. African Islam has always been tolerant.
8. On the road to sustainable development. Africa accounts for no more than four percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the world. At the same time, deserts are advancing and climate change is altering the patterns of rains and floods. The poor suffer most from the changes. Sustainable development is needed in Africa.
9. A young and urban continent. By 2030 one-third of the increase in the world’s population will take place in Africa. The trend will change slowly. Africa is a continent of young people, and much education will be needed there.
10. Africa is on the phone. Thanks to submarine cables, communications are improving. The greatest growth in the use of mobile phones in the world is currently in sub-Saharan Africa. Thanks to communications, old authorities are collapsing. The pressure for civic rights and democracy is growing.
The writer is a Finnish MP who has worked in UN and EU missions in African peace processes. He is also a member of the ARS Committee in Kiasma.