Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

Why are Africans optimistic?

  • Print

WASHINGTON — Looking at the highlights from the World Economic Forum’s Survey on the Global Agenda, I was interested to see that sub-Saharan Africa was identified as the region most optimistic about the ability of government, business and media institutions to tackle global challenges. On the international level, these institutions haven’t exactly served Africans’ interests all that well in the past. This fits in with some other recent survey data showing that African countries are in a particularly optimistic mood at the moment.

A recent Gallup survey found that when asked to rate their future lives vs. their current lives, 14 of the 15 most optimistic countries were in Africa, despite — or perhaps because of — the fact that these same countries have some of the lowest rankings for current life satisfaction. (Seven of the 15 most pessimistic were in Europe.) Africans were also far more optimistic than Europeans or North Americans that their children would be better off than themselves in a recent Pew poll. (Pew put Northern and Sub-Saharan Africa together in one, so the region’s average numbers were brought down by bleakly pessimistic Egypt.)

The optimism makes sense, and not just because, as Gallup puts it, people in the world’s poorest countries "cannot imagine that their lives could get any worse." Sub-Saharan African countries in particular have made some of the largest strides in living standards over the past decade. But at the same time, inequality has been growing not just within countries but between them. And it’s not just income. Global problems like climate change will likely impact poor countries much more than the downers in Europe and North America. Even if rates of hunger and child mortality are dramatically falling nearly everywhere, they’re going to continue to disproportionately impact African and South Asian countries for some time.

We’re now in an interesting period in which the people in the countries with the world’s best quality of life — who despite current difficulties are likely to remain in that position for some time — are the least optimistic about future prospects for themselves and their children. Meanwhile, people in the world’s poorest countries are feeling the best about the future.

 

Keating is a staff writer at Slate focusing on international news, social science and related topics. He was previously an editor at Foreign Policy magazine.

 

— Slate

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

City Beautiful trailer: How architecture shaped Winnipeg's DNA

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A young gosling prepares to eat dandelions on King Edward St Thursday morning-See Bryksa 30 Day goose challenge- Day 17- bonus - May 24, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • Two Canadian geese perch themselves for a perfect view looking at the surroundings from the top of a railway bridge near Lombard Ave and Waterfront Drive in downtown Winnipeg- Standup photo- May 01, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Do you support Pimicikamak First Nation's protest against Manitoba Hydro?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google