Africans-including Zimbabweans- must now tell their own stories- ADB president


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Africans must now tell their own stories because if they continue to denigrate themselves they will be playing into the hands of those who control the narrative of Africa, African Development Bank president Akinwumi Adfesina says.

Right now, news about Africa is dominated by negative news on crime, conflicts, crisis and challenges.

“Where I come from, we have a saying- “What you call yourself, is the name others will subscribe to you”, Adesina said. “For as long as we continually denigrate ourselves and play into the hands of those who control the narrative about Africa, for as long will we be stuck with a label that does not belong to us.

“It is time for change. Prejudices, misinformation, stereotypes about Africa, and the never-ending mantra of negative news have multiple effects. It negatively impacts the psyche, beliefs, and hopes of the youth, with the attendant result being a perception that their destiny lies somewhere else but not on the continent.

“The negative imageries, strongly impacts investor confidence, scares capital, raises the risk profiles of countries, and worse, contributes to the so-called Africa risk premium that makes the cost of capital for investment 3–4 times higher than in other parts of the world.”

Adesina said positive news about Africa was ignored by the West and even by African journalists that worked for Western news organisations. Last year for example, Africa had the highest growth but this was not extensively reported.

“Moody’s Analytics conducted a 14-year survey on cumulative default rates on infrastructure loans in various regions of the world. The results show that default rate in Africa was 1.9%, while default rate in North America was 6.6%; Latin America, 10%; Eastern Europe, 12%; and Western Asia, 4.3%.

“Yet look at the yields on bonds issued by African countries and countries in Latin America: for the same credit rating of similar BB-rated countries in the two regions, the one in Africa pays 1.1% interest rate higher than those in Latin America,” Adesina said.

He said it was time Africans told their own stories.

“Now, Africans must tell their own stories. Not the stories that others write about us. Not the stories of a post-colonial media mindset. Not the stories impregnated with Cold War divisionism. Not biassed stories intended or unintended. But the stories of us, as Africans, written by Africans, about Africa, and confidently projected to the world.”
Below is Adesina’s full speech at the All Africa Media Leaders’ Summit in Nairobi Kenya on Thursday:

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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.

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