Destination Africa

Destination Africa

Contemporary Africa as a global meeting point
Leiden, 22-23 March 2018

AEGIS CRG ‘Africa in the World Rethinking Africa’s Global Connections’

We live in an era of rising anxiety in Europe over African immigration, fuelled by media images and politicians talking of a ‘tsunami’ of migrants from Africa ‘invading’ Europe, chasing ‘our’ wealth and challenging ‘our’ values. This conference proposes to reverse the perspective and to consider current movements towards Africa and Africa as a centre of global connectivity. Examples abound: Western and Asian companies increasingly invest in Africa to capture one of the world’s largest unsaturated markets in consumer goods and services; hundreds of thousands of Chinese migrants have settled in Africa; the Arab states, Turkey and Malaysia are heavily investing in the Islamic education sector; Indian ICT companies are investing huge sums in the telecommunications sector; Brazilian agricultural schemes are implanted in Mozambique; Indian and Korean academics lead new Ethiopian universities, and the highly prized safari tourism in Tanzania or Botswana has reached new heights, thanks to an influx of new upper-class clients from Asia and the Arab countries, among others. In addition, the migration of young African professionals returning to their ‘home’ countries, investments in African land markets by African migrants, and intra-African investment by African multinationals (for instance, supermarket chains, ICT firms, mining companies, construction companies) are booming.
It is true that the wave of ‘Afro-Optimism’ of the last decade – from ‘Africa on the Rise’ to ‘Africa is the new Asia’ – has suffered severe setbacks in recent years. One of the factors for this readjustment is the obvious mass migration of young Africans, who frequently originate not from failed states and civil war regions, but from countries like Ghana or Senegal, which are considered internationally as top-performing and democratic countries. Furthermore, the economic and political turmoil in South Africa, the state collapse in South Sudan, and the reappearance of pictures of mass starvation of African children have darkened the picture. On the other hand, an increasing number of Africans and non-Africans consider Africa as the place to be and stay.

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