Africa has been at the receiving end of the monikers of others, from the pejorative ‘dark’ continent of the 19th century to be labelled more recently, first, as ‘hopeless’ and then, a decade later, as ‘rising’ by The Economist. It’s high time for Africa to carve out its own epithet. The Conservation Continent is a positive option for many good reasons.

The Covid-19 pandemic is likely to amplify Africa’s development challenges – essentially the result of high population growth and historically too low economic growth – and accelerate the pace at which governments will have to act and deliver to citizens.

The immediate challenge for African leaders is to mitigate the worst effects of the crisis and to reposition the continent beyond Covid-19. The local-over-global reflex to the pandemic poses risks to African growth, such as those implicit in a deep-seated political call for businesses to go “home”, thereby reducing the reliance on outsiders.

As African leadership thinks about the longer-term imperative of diversification and transformation, they might have opportunities few of their counterparts elsewhere possess in allocating a greater share of land to conservancies, providing a new avenue for tourist development. A big policy bet on the environment today…



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