Pair of WSJ stories: first one on Carlyle Group joining the list of private equity firms rushing in with yet another Sub-Saharan Fund; and second on EU debating whether to fund a cohort of West African states looking to combat the radical Islamic militias that have taken over northern Mali with the intention of setting up their own separate state.
The combination is - to me - telling of that dynamic of rapid frontier integration that I'm always going on about.
Africa is, of course, not really a frontier in a settling sense, but it is one in a globalization-investment-trade sense. And when you're a frontier in that sense, it's not surprising to see both dynamics in play, as the "rush" of connectivity creates its own blowback (the central theme of my books).
From the first piece:
The investments, and Carlyle's nascent Sub-Saharan Fund, targeted at $500 million, show how private-equity firms are trying to position themselves to tap into the continent's new consumers as well as companies that are expanding on the back of demand for food and energy from the rest of the world. Competition among global rivals is heating up in Africa, as investment returns diminish in more developed parts of the world.
From the second piece:
West Africa countries are trying to set up the force to help Mali to regain control of its northern half, which is under the sway of the al Qaeda affiliate, known as al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, or AQIM. The nations say northern Malie is becoming a haven for violent groups that live off kidnapping and trafficking as well as a training ground for terrorists who could destabilize the whole region.
I mean, seriously, I bet I could find you similar stories in U.S. East Coast newspapers from 1870-something that describe new funds and new military efforts being launched for the American West.
The speed of both dynamics is, in terms relative to even our recent past, rather stunning. The worst thing I wrote in The Pentagon's New Map concerned my pessimism over Africa's future. I just had the whole thing taking far longer than it is.
And that's a real lesson for me.