In June, global food giant Nestle was forced to downsize its operations in Africa, after having gone too big too fast because its managers had cast Africa as the next Asia. Belatedly, those same managers eventually realized that the two continents are, well, continents apart, and that Africa could not sustain the same growth they had seen elsewhere.
Its an important lessonfor investors, for intellectuals, and even for politicians.
For generations, the story of Africa has been one of despair, famously headlined as the Hopeless Continent by The Economist only 15 years ago. Now, the newer story about Africa is that of rising Africa, which US president Obama frequently referenced on his historic tour to Kenya and Ethiopia. Certainly, the first visit of a sitting US president to Kenya has helped to put all of Africa back on world newspapers front pagesand on the business pages, too. But this rising Africa narrative is still vulnerable to what the Nigerian author Chimamanda Adichie once described as the single story.