In This Review

Africa's Moment
Africa's Moment
By Jean-Michel Severino,Olivier Ray
Polity, 2012, 352 pp

This book delivers a lively introduction to contemporary sub-Saharan Africa, surveying current trends in the region, including the recent emergence of a number of dynamic economies, the high costs of endemic corruption, the stubborn persistence of civil war, and the destabilizing potential of elections in fledgling democracies. Most interesting, however, is Severino and Ray’s emphasis on demographic changes and natural-resource issues. They cite projections that the population of Africa will exceed 1.8 billion people in 2050 -- a quarter more than China’s predicted population by that point. Such population growth will entail massive urbanization and put enormous pressure on natural resources, especially water, with potentially explosive political consequences. But it will also create significant economic opportunities. Arrestingly, the authors also predict that urbanization will lead to a progressive decline in the salience of ethnic conflict in the region, as Africans move away from parochial identities and toward broader ones.