More Africans (Than Non-Africans) Are Optimistic About Africa’s Future. Here’s Why
Turns out that the poor depiction of Africa in the media isn’t enough to deflate all hope in the hearts of many. I say this because a new Pew Research Center survey finds that people in major African nations (Burkina Faso, Senegal, Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa) are more optimistic about their future than people in other parts of the world.
Researchers attribute this optimism to the very high growth rates experienced by many African countries over the last decade which means that people in these African nations are more satisfied with their current economies and therefore more optimistic about their economic future. Sure. That makes sense. But may I offer an alternative perspective?
Could the results of this study also be reflective of the fact that Africans in general just happen to be a hopeful, persevering and optimistic people? Our culture isn’t one where we blame our parents for the outcome of our lives or attribute our lack of success to a parent being too consumed with work to play ball or catch with us. Rather, we are a lot that pray, hope, believe, hustle and keep it moving; believing that tomorrow will be better and that our time will come.
Could this culture, this inherent trait in our community be the reason we are more optimistic (vs the economic growth the books say we’ve experienced over the last decade)? Could it also be that citizens of wealthier nations are less optimistic because from the outside looking in, everything seems the same: Africa still lacks infrastructure, there’s still a high rate of unemployment, lack of access to clean water and continuous energy shortages are still predominant and broad majorities lack health care? However, those on the inside are able to see changes — albeit small (even minute) changes — that are invisible to the far-removed and distant external eye.
When survey respondents were asked what the top priorities should be for their countries beyond strictly economic issues, all identified health care and education.
Another interesting finding to me is that over the long term, Africans are optimistic about the economic prospects for their children. Over half of respondents believe that when today’s children grow up, they will be financially better off than their parents. Amen!
Overall, positive economic ratings were especially common in Ethiopia, Senegal, South Africa and Nigeria, where majorities believe that their country is doing well economically.
I understand how a country’s recent economic past can breed bullish optimism about its economic future and its certainly easy to see how countries that have recently enjoyed strong growth, for example Nigeria, can be more optimistic about the financial well-being of the next generation (because of the assumption that this strong growth will continue, I suppose).
Regardless of the link between the recent past and the future, the important thing is mass economic improvement. So fingers crossed that this strong economic growth continues on an upward trajectory and most importantly, trickles down to the grassroots level in tangible ways.