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FIFA WC: Why is the world interested in Africa?

By Radha Radhakrishnan

The World Cup kicked off last week with lot of fanfare and in true African style. It not only heralded the beginning of yet another edition of world"s most admired sport, it also catapulted Africa as the most happening Continent.

There were few hitches and unfortunate incidents though. Few journalists from China were robbed in South Africa couple of days before the inaugural day highlighting things are far from being good especially from governance and law and order perspective.

Notwithstanding such incidents, the World seems to love Africa. Why? Few facts will throw some light on this.

Demographically speaking:

-Africa is the second largest and second most populous continent after Asia

-With a billion plus population accounting for 15 per cent of world"s human population

-Only continent to stretch from Northern temperature to Southern temperature zones.

Economically speaking:

-A study of public companies of manufacturing and services sector in Africa between 2002-07 found that average return on capital of companies was around 2/3rds higher than comparable companies in China, India, Indonesia and Vietnam

- A Mckinsey report states Africa"s GDP growth has doubled this decade on average compared to the previous one. Much of the growth coming from trade, transportation and communications, manufacturing and financial intermediation

- Africa has Internet penetration of 6.7 per cent compared to the rest of the world at to about 26 per cent. India"s Internet penetration is 7 per cent and China stands at 28.7 per cent.

-Currently there are more middle class households in Africa than in India. It is estimated that Africa will soon have 100 million households with more than $5,000 in annual income (on purchasing-power-parity terms), and half this amount will be spent on non-food items

While these qualifiers are great for any one in capitalistic world to take notice, Africa still needs to sort out few of its problems specifically relating to governance.

Literacy, health and poverty need greater attention. Measuring Governance Index spread across different countries in Africa points to Somalia, Sudan, Zimbabwe being poor in governance and Mauritius, Botswana, Namibia and South Africa being better off.

According to United Nations Development Programme Report 2009 literacy level in Africa too is diverse – varies on one side with Zimbabwe at 91.2 per cent and Seychelles at 91.8 per cent and on the other Ethiopia and Mozambique are at 35.9 per cent and 38.7 per cent respectively. In Healthcare, Africa has the highest HIV prevalence among adults in the world (WHO statistics).

From the beginning of this century there have been improvements in Africa. The continent is witnessing a communication revolution. There were 400 million mobile phone subscribers at the end of 2009 compared to none at all few years ago.

Media organizations that were hitherto controlled by the Government are privatized in many countries leading to increased awareness and education of fundamental rights and more importantly freedom of expression.

As the late Michael Jackson and some of the most famous artists of that genre sang in the 1985, it is time for Africa to say “We are the world"!

*The views expressed in this article are solely that of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Oneindia.in or of Greynium Information Technologies Pvt Ltd. *

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