Africa in the Wider World: Africa Opening or Closing?
All but unknown and little discussed by the foreign policy community in Washington are two related phenomena playing out in Africa and other parts of the Global South: the opportunities of the open agenda and the formidable challenges of closing space around civil society.
While many inside and outside government focus on big-ticket items such as “Power Africa” and “Feed the Future,” these initiatives will be footnotes to history depending how opening and closing play out—especially in sub-Saharan Africa. In a world of greater opening, we could witness a wave of justice and prosperity sweep from the beaches of Mombasa across the continent to the mountains above Cape Town. Or alternatively, the closing space means the slow, drip-drip of stagnation, interrupted by spasms of violence, with citizens’ voices repressed and leaders who choose not to lead but never leave office.
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