“Despite an enduring image of victimhood, Africans have made steady progress over the past 20 years in democracy, economic development and conflict resolution. Much remains to be accomplished, and many of the gains remain fragile.”

(Michelle Sieff – World Political Review – January 2010)

This statement from an article that appeared in the January 8, 2010 issue of World Political Review sums up many of the misconceptions held in the developed world when it concerns the African continent.

The challenge for all of us in much of the developed world is to understand that Africa is changing much faster than our perceptions of Africa.

During the post-colonial era since the end of World War II, and the breakup of the Soviet Union, many African countries have overcome the upheaval these transitions brought to much of the continent, and have been slowly and steadily building their economic foundations.

As some far-sighted investors have discovered, many countries in the developing world, and Africa in particular, are rich in minerals, oil and gas, and other natural resources, and have a strong desire to exploit these resources for economic growth. While opportunities abound in many emerging countries, simple ignorance and negative perceptions held by the developed world’s political, industrial, and financial institutions have resulted in the tendency for many of these countries to be largely ignored by the developed world.

Despite these perceptions, many African governments have recognized the need for economic development, legal reform, and political stability and have been quietly achieving those goals. While rich in resources, many of these countries still find it difficult to attract the capital and expertise required to improve their industrial infrastructures, because the international perception is that these countries are simply considered to be too high risk to invest in.

It wasn’t that long ago similar perceptions were held about India, China, Brazil and a host of other developing nations. Change in Africa is ocurring at a must faster pace than many realize. Sillenger believes that the reluctance of others creates opportunity for us, and we see many tremendous opportunities in Africa that should not be ignored.