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Imagining Africa’s Future: Beyond Models of Catch-up and Convergence?

11 March 2013
UNESCO Headquarters, Paris, France

Future Forums are opportunities to explore and question different images of the future and how those images influence what we see and do in the present. In this Forum a range of speakers, each an expert on the future of Africa, from a variety of different perspectives, was asked to present the underlying model they have used to describe their imaginary future for Africa and assess its relationship to existing models of development. The point of a Future Forum is not to predict the future but to use the future to better understand and motivate choice and action today.

The Future Forum explored two questions:

First, to what extent is current speculation about the future of Africa rooted in models that by definition sketch a terrain over which others have passed before and it is now imagined that Africa will speed along in order to catch-up? In other words are people looking at the present through a future that is simply an extrapolation of past experience with industrialization?

Second, can the contours of distinctive models of societal organization begin to be discerned and do the images of the future based on these new models offer different insights into the potential of the present for identifying choices and taking action? Are new models, specific to the realities of highly distinctive societies, being invented in order to think about the future? What do these new models reveal about opportunities in the present?


  • Charles Chukwuma Soludo, Former Nigerian Central Bank Governor
  • Mwayila Tshiyembe, Director of the Institute of Panafrican Geopolitics, University of Nancy
  • Charles Robertson, Global Chief Economist, Head of Macro-strategy, Renaissance Capital and Lead author of "The Fastest Billion"

Video on demand


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