In January of this year Aengus Collins, Head of Global Risks and the Geopolitical Agenda at the World Economic Forum, asked, “Could the world be sleepwalking into a crisis?”
The answer is yes, yes it could. Michael Spence, a mild-mannered economist as Clark Kent as you’re likely to find, recently wrote that “Taken together, these diverse economic and political trends may or may not lead to another global crisis or sudden stop. Either way, they will sustain a prolonged period of radical uncertainty.”
That’s mild-mannered-economist-speak for “crisis.” He was describing situations from Europe to the US to Asia, but increasingly, the world feels uneasy no matter where you
are. But it seemed for a while at least that Africa, this continent of 54 countries, which is three times the size of the US, would get a pass.
African countries so often are out of sight and out of mind for the West. Usually that is reason to object, but lately it has seemed a good thing. As trouble has bubbled and boiled on either side of the Atlantic and Pacific, and more recently on the sub-continent of India, Africa has, by its own real or perceived standards, been relatively stable (one exception might be the political rumbling brewing in historically stable and “boring” nation of Botswana).
As globalization’s unraveling seemed to accelerate, Africa sealed the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), the world’s largest free trade area. The promise is considerable; the area would cover a market with a population similar to that of India, and a combined gross domestic product of $2.5 trillion.