1.What is Africa as ‘Last Frontier’?
(a)The phrase could be interpreted from the perspective of the expansion of the world economy to new poles of global economic growth and transformation such as the BRICS countries and the Asian Tigers.
(b)It could also mean Africa as a virgin new territory for conquest by the unflinching advance of globalization and global capital, operating mainly through international trade and foreign direct investment.
2.Why Africa Matters to the World Economy
(a)It could matter as a source of extraction of raw materials and natural resources but not as a contributor to global prosperity through its own economic transformation. This is “negative mattering.” It continues a trajectory that has remained fundamentally the same since the transatlantic slave trade and the period of colonial rule. This kind of mattering – extractive importance – is the current phase of the economies of most African countries. We should also note that, in this context, growth could be taking place but no structural transformation, which is what creates real prosperity, is happening. Even this source of importance may be in decline with the discovery of fracking and shale oil and gas.
(b)But Africa should matter as a growth pole in its own right, like Asia increasingly does. For this to happen, however, I argue that a paradigm shift must take place because the current paradigm, based on unrestrained free markets without a conceptual grasp of the opportunities, limitations and kinds of capitalism, and the structure of world trade, cannot create an enabling environment for Africa to matter in the world economy. With 3% of world trade and 5% of total global FDI, the continent still plays a negligible role in the global economy.