Author: Dan Keeler

The Light In Africa's Darkness

Devastating though the Indian Ocean tsunami was, the death toll is dwarfed by the ongoing disaster in Africa, where as many people die every week from preventable causes as were killed by the tsunami.The scale of the crisis, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, is breathtaking—and many believe it will only get worse as aid agencies around the world rally to help the region hit by the tsunami.

As we find out in our cover story this month, though, there are those who believe that, far from diverting urgently needed aid away from Africa, the tsunami tragedy will actually bring the ongoing crisis in Africa into sharper focus.With luck, that growing awareness will lead to an increase in both the aid coming from developed nations and the effort they will put into helping blighted African nations stabilize and grow their economies. Already, some developed nations are pushing for trade barriers to be pulled down an countries can benefit from better access to global markets.

Perhaps the key will be a change in attitudes toward Africa. Developed nations need to recognize that many of the debt-laden nations of Southern Africa are not only potential markets but economically viable centers of production.China is already highly active in the region; roughly a third of the $20 billion invested by Chinese companies in Africa over the past three years went to the sub-Saharan region. Chinese goods are appearing in the markets there, and Chinese businesses are involved in everything from basic agriculture to manufacturing.

It is investments like this that will ultimately help Africa shed the bonds of poverty. And it will take the commitment—and compassion—of governments and businesses from the developed nations to make it happen.

Until next month, Dan Keeler