Carlos Lopes and Alan Hirsch, Nelson Mandela School of Public Governance, University of Cape Town
This blog is part of a thread that aims to challenge existing narratives about Africa and its development.
Africa’s positioning in the global scene is seldom immune to controversy. The numerous debates about Africa’s true size and developmental successes can deflect Africans and potential partners from a coherent continental development strategy.
Despite its landmass of 30 million square kilometres, the commonly used Mercator projection maps Africa’s size to be equal to Greenland’s, which is fourteen times smaller. That such a depiction is popularised even by Google Earth shows the endurance of certain perceptions. Moreover, contemporary afro-pessimism is rooted in history and is not limited to the injustices of modern-day cartography or the erroneous views portrayed in contemporary literature. It is about risk perceptions, levels of conflict, political instability, and the variety of economic experiments. Many continue to identify Africa as uniformly beset by conflict, crisis, bad governance, and a risky place for making investments.