From Despair to Adventure
Amidst seemingly endless global economic weakness and uncertainty, signs of an altered world order might be emerging. Poland’s strength could point to augmented economic dominance for Eastern Europe as the Eurozone fights through a lengthy process of post-crisis adjustment. East Asian countries outside of China could play a more significant role in that critical region as the middle kingdom’s long-term growth slows.
An awakening Africa, whose pace of economic growth is quickening, could also be a factor in a redefined world picture. A thought-provoking article in today’s Wall Street Journal focused on the emergence of something that would have seemed virtually impossible just years ago—a space program throughout the African continent. The article notes that in May of this year Ghana became the latest nation on the continent to set up such a program, as Nigeria, Kenya, and Uganda also take steps into space. It is remarkable what a sense of hope does for the human psyche. Public and private leaders in what was the most economically challenged region of the world are beginning to imagine a technological future.
Some argue that African engineers would accumulate technical experience more rapidly if their governments sent them abroad. Certainly Africa should be learning from countries and regions with more advanced space programs. But the counterarguments are critical and one in particular needs to be noted—inspiration. Kofi Ashilevi, director of Ghana’s space center, wants to use his country’s emerging program to inspire African school children to venture into space someday. And he wants to build a space museum. The U.S., with the most advanced program in the world, should take note of Mr. Ashilevi’s desire to motivate the next generation of African explorers.
Kudos for these African nations. At a time of great global economic uncertainty and with many critical human challenges ahead of them they are doing something important—looking up. Ultimately, their people will reap great benefits.