Al Hammond

Africa’s private sector strategy for alleviating poverty

In a short cover story in the International edition of Newsweek, dated July 11, the magazine contrasts the promises at the G-8 summit with the entrepreneurial revolution already taking place on the ground in Africa. It’s not planned, rather much more spontaneous and bottom-up. But the evidence is that its working in at least 25 of the continent’s countries. Even World Bank President Wolfowitz is impressed, according to the magazine.

Before an Africa tour last month, the newly installed World Bank president, Paul Wolfowitz, called corruption “the worst threat to democracy since communism.” But after visiting Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Rwanda and South Africa, he was striking a more positive note: “Every?where I found people who had a real willingness to work hard, intelligence, energy and a can-do attitude. Africa is a continent on the move.”

That corresponds to the entrepreneurial activity we are tracking–in microfinance, in cellular, in wireless internet, in franchised health care, in new SME investment funds–that suggests the reach and power of private sector approaches in Africa.