TED Conversations

Bruno Giussani

European Director, TED


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Which relevant/important events currently unfolding around the world are being ignored by the media? Why are they relevant?

Open a newspaper or watch a newscast, and along with a couple of important news (say, Egypt and Tunisia) and a couple of surprising and insightful stories, you will read or hear a lot of irrelevant stuff. Yet world-changing and life-altering events are happening all the time around the world - just not where the media are focusing their lenses (I'm not suggesting active censorship here - just a structural problem in the way "news" is identified, selected and distributed). What are the events currently unfolding, anywhere in the world, of any kind, that are 1) underreported 2) regionally or globally truly relevant 3) may have a broad impact and 4) people should know about?


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    Mar 4 2011: .
    The rapid emergence of Africa as an economic powerhouse is definitely an underreported story.

    Sub-Saharan Africa's middle class is now bigger than that of much hyped economic wonder India. And it already has more purchasing power. Africa's stock exchanges are the world's best performing, and they are so consistently, not just temporarily or by some trend in commodities.

    The rise of Africa will stun everybody -- especially because it is so underreported.

    And the (Western) media cannot accept that this rise comes from Africa itself. In a persistently colonial logic, they continue to attribute this rise (if reported at all), to some "outside" force: be it China which is investing, or the diaspora which is coming back, or some anonymous market force coming from the West. All these external forces pale compared to Africa's own dynamism and its growth spurred by its own rising class of investors and its hyper-globalised middle-class.

    Because of our own prejudice against Africa (and our wish to "help these poor people" via our aid industry), we will all be surprised and stunned, pretty soon.
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      Mar 8 2011: Hey Laurens, I couldn't agree with you more. I was already quite surprised and stunned by Africa during my short stay there last year, and yes I have the miserably poor media coverage to thank.

      First of all, I've met some of the most creative and resourceful entrepreneurs and engineer who have developed effective solutions and products, with virtually very little cost. Sometimes it's even painful to admit something that cheap actually does work.

      Second I'm amazed by the prevalence of mobile phones, and how many things they're capable to do, all using the simplest models. SMS, facebook, even mobile banking is already incorporated into people's daily lives for quite some while.

      Of course the emergence of Africa is by nature complicated. I certainly don't buy into those prototype stories anymore. We need to hear more voices about the exciting developments come from within.
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        Mar 9 2011: Hi Jing Cao, I agree: we need to get rid of prototype stories.

        I exaggerated in my view on Africa, just to give an anti-dote to the eternal "Africa = misery" line of reporting.

        But as you probably know all too well: Africa is dynamic because it blends very modern things rapidly with traditional structures.

        So lots of problems do persist, but on many other fronts they are really becoming very modern.

        The example of the mobile phone is strong: here in Europe we have none of the things they do in Africa with a simple phone. If only the internet-connections could catch up, that revolution would expand even faster.
    • Mar 10 2011: Totally agree. Huge emerging story, which I've seen up close recently. See Feb. 28 report by American Enterprise Institute demographer. It predicts that the largest share of the increase in the world labor pool next 20 years will be in Africa. In the last 20 years, the big contributors were India and China. Political and social implications of this prediction are substantial. See also my contribution above on how we can bring slow-motion stories like this to light.

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