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African Prospects 2018 Vol. 1


Jorge Luis Borges famously said: “Don’t talk unless you can improve the silence.” We had his warning in mind when we thought about launching African Prospects, this new yearly publication from the African Development Bank Group. Why, indeed, do this? The answer is straightforward: Good knowledge is the main driver of economic development. That is why producing, acquiring, sharing, and diffusing knowledge—through various channels and processes of social learning—make it the most important of all public goods. The African Development Bank Group is well positioned to carry out and share cutting-edge research with African leaders, and to support them as they try to build high-performing domestic institutions for policymaking. The Bank’s ongoing intellectual work focuses on its High 5 agenda to Light Up and Power Africa, Feed Africa, Industrialize Africa, Integrate Africa, and Improve the Quality of Life for the People of Africa. For these five major themes, the AfDB’s analytical and advisory activities also cover various cross-cutting themes pertinent to African development, including research and policy documents on trade, finance, and natural resource governance. In addition to the traditional media and tools for sharing Bank knowledge--electronic platforms, books, articles in academic journals, working papers, policy reports, lectures, seminars, and conferences— we are renewing our engagement with development stakeholders across Africa. We are targeting, in particular, two key constituencies: young people and women. Our aim is to discuss serious development issues in ways that are less formal, and this is where African Prospects comes in. African Prospects 2018: The Road to the High 5s features a diverse group of leading figures from the development world, academia, business, finance, civil society, and the arts alongside African Development Bank senior managers. It is not a collection of predictions. Instead, it offers reflections on where the continent stands on the High 5 Agenda, and identifies and explores the issues that matter the most as Africa moves ahead—in think pieces of various lengths and styles. Contributors include a Nobel laureate, central bank governors, an African Union Commissioner, a vice-president of one of Africa’s leading regional development banks, the first African scholar to be elected president of a major university in Japan, an influential banker, internationally renowned novelists and intellectuals, several music icons, an influential cartoonist, and emerging names and leading online voices for young Africans. In launching this yearly, magazine-type publication, we hope to pass the Jorge Luis Borges test, and to “improve the silence.” Beyond the print edition, African Prospects 2018 is available in full digital version at

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