Is there hope for Africa?

Robin Bootle usually writes a good piece in Monday’s DT and today he devotes it to Africa.  What are Africa’s vital statistics?

(a) Enormous mineral resources (though bear in mind that new carbon-compounds of superior specifications may be overtaking metals in 50 years); (b) a working age population of 500 million that could grow to 1.3 billion by 2050 (that is, if Africans want to work anywhere near as hard as, say, Chinese or north Europeans.

Bootle ends his article with “But potential alone is not enough.  In the end natural resources wealth does not get you to very far — look at Russia. It may even be a curse.  At bottom, what really matters for economic development is governance.”

I agree with two sentences out of three but the last needs taking backwards. Government can only grow out of economic development and the latter can only grow out of leading edge scientific research.  Unless any of the 180-odd Third World countries develop some high-level scientific expertise (e.g. Singapore, Israel, Cuba) then they have no chance of breaking into the high-value part of world trade and thus raise their standard of living.

Failing scientific research, until most Third World populations are much reduced and they can develop their only sure permanent high-value trade — holiday-, adventure- or scientific-tourism — then their per capita standards of living will be way behnd those of the First World for a very long time to come.

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