Whether Africa’s cup is half-full or half-empty is a debate that is certain to rage in Addis Ababa this week, before and during the January 27-28 AU summit.
The thickening ranks of positive thinkers will point to the “Africa Rising” phenomenon and play down the signs that conflicts are creeping back.
There is growing affluence in many African countries, which have benefited from more than a decade of a commodities super-cycle — the Chinese-driven demand for resources at almost any price. The continent is home to nine of the world’s 20 fastest-growing economies.
This summit, Ms Dlamini-Zuma’s first as the chairwoman of the AU Commission, will hear a lot from presidents, ministers and VIPs about the pace of African growth.
The African Development Bank estimates it will reach a very healthy 6.6% this year, excluding powerhouse SA.
The gung-ho message is starting to be tempered — and none too soon, many will argue — by difficult questions: how is the manna being shared? Are the poorest also getting richer? Can wealth be measured in shopping malls alone?
And now the tables are turning. We’re asking the necessary questions now and we want answers. Answers and receipts. Lots of receipts.