回到非洲(一) / Back To Africa (Part One)

回到非洲(一)

过去几十年,我见过许许多多第一次到中国的西方人,其中有游客、商人,还有记者和政客。这些人都为自己亲眼看到的真实的中国感到惊讶和震撼,因为他们的所见所闻与以往脑海中的中国印象形成了鲜明的对比。

最近,也轮到我体验一下这种警醒的滋味。事情发生在6月26日至28日期间,我第一次前往非洲参加由《财富》、《时代》及CNN在南非开普敦举办的全球论坛。

人生就是由许多旅行组成的伟大旅程,其中成功与失败相互交织。如果做得好的话,我们还可以从成功与失败中汲取经验和教训。失败是成功之母,这既是经验的副产品,也是不同于天赋的后天习得。

有时候,生命中的某次小旅行会创造非同一般的机会,为学习和增长见识提供丰厚的土壤,我的非洲之旅就是如此。

短短一周的见闻让我深刻地意识到,如今我对非洲的了解是多么地落伍,也让我知道要朝哪个方向改进。

极具讽刺意味的是,虽然我们日渐缩小的世界正在经历着信息爆炸和通讯爆炸,但我们对邻里的事情仍然知之甚少。我们可以把一部分原因归咎于媒体,但我们也该为自身的思想懒惰和固步自封承担些责任。

非洲商业巨子兼易卜拉欣基金会(Mo Ibrahim Foundation)创始人易卜拉欣(Mo Ibrahim)向参加全球论坛的代表指出,西方主流媒体有关非洲的典型报道总是充斥着一小串负面消息,似乎这片大陆从来就和好事儿绝缘。新闻的焦点总是围绕着索马里海盗、达富尔难民、卢旺达种族屠杀、艾滋病和腐败暴君,却忽略了对更广泛的内容以及对包括改善国计民生、提高教育与环保、争取妇女权益、扩建医疗等基础设施在内的非洲发展与进步给与更加平衡、更加亲和的报道。

非洲大陆共有53个国家,土地面积占全球三分之一——超过北美洲、拉丁美洲和欧洲的总和。非洲还拥有全球最丰富的自然资源,人口达10亿人。黑非洲(撒哈拉以南的非洲)的经济发展速度在世界上名列第三,仅次于中国和印度。非洲每年从海外吸引的直接投资已从2000年的90亿美元提高到2008年的620亿美元,相对于国民生产总值而言,基本等于中国吸引的海外直接投资。

非洲大陆的人口密度极低。如果与中国比较,相当于在三倍大的土地上只生活着四分之三的人口。非洲与中国一样,城市人口的比例为40%,人口平均年龄也较低。根据麦肯锡公司对非洲进行的最新调查,截止到2040年,全球每5名青年中就有1名来自非洲,那里的劳动力总量将超过中国。非洲还拥有全球60%的未开垦可耕地。

Back To Africa (Part One)

During the past few decades I have seen countless first-time Western visitors to China — tourists, business executives, journalists and politicians — deeply surprised and impressed by the reality of the China they saw first-hand, in sharp contrast to the image of China which they had in their mind before visiting.

Recently it was my turn to experience such an awakening moment. The occasion was my first visit to Africa, to participate in the FORTUNE/Time/CNN Global Forum in Cape Town, South Africa, from June 26-28.

Life is a great journey comprised of many small journeys, some successful and some not, woven together — if we get it right — by learning from success as well as failure. Mistakes are the feedstock of wisdom, which is a by-product of experience, and an acquired trait very different from innate intelligence.

Once in a while one of life’s small journeys provides an unusually rich vein of learning and insight, and my first visit to Africa was such a trip.

What I saw in one brief week left me deeply impressed and aware of how out of step my knowledge had been with Africa today, and where it is headed.

There is a terrible irony in the fact that despite the explosion of information and communications in our ever-shrinking world, we can still be so poorly informed about our neighbors. We can lay part of the blame on news media, but we should shoulder some of the responsibility ourselves for being intellectually lazy and complacent in our old ways of thinking.

As Mo Ibrahim, highly successful African entrepreneur and Founder of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, said to Forum delegates, typical news reports from Africa in most western mass media consist of a short string of bad news sound bites, as if there were no good news emanating from the continent. The usual focus is on Somali pirates, the suffering in Darfur, genocide in Ruanda, HIV/AIDs, corrupt despots, etc., minus the broader context and a more balanced, nuanced look at positive progress which is being made in many parts of this giant continent in improved governance and civil society, in education, the environment, the empowerment of women, expansion of infrastructure including health care, etc.

Africa as a continent comprises 53 countries, with roughly 1/3 of the world’s land area — bigger than North America, Latin America and Europe combined. It has a huge share of our planet’s natural resources, with a population of 1 billion people. Sub-Saharan Africa is the third-fastest growing economic region of the world after China and India. The annual flow of foreign direct investment into Africa increased from US$9 billion in 2000 to US$62 billion in 2008, which is almost as large as the FDI flow into China, relative to GDP.

The African continent’s population density is very low. By comparison with China, for example, it has 25% less people living on three times more land area. Like China, about 40% of its people live in cities versus rural areas. Africa’s population is also relatively young. According to a new McKinsey & Company study on Africa, by the year 2040, one in five of our planet’s young people will hail from Africa, and the size of its labor force will be larger than China’s. Africa has nearly 60% of the world’s uncultivated arable land.

 

麦肯锡报告 / McKinsey report

上世纪,财富全球论坛曾召集数百位企业领袖、政府首脑、学者、记者和评论家在北京、巴黎等城市集会。今年这个论坛首次选在非洲召开,《财富》杂志也首次与姊妹媒体《时代》及CNN联合主办此次大会。

Over the past decade, the FORTUNE Global Forum has brought together hundreds of top business and government leaders as well as academics, journalists and opinion leaders, in cities from Beijing to Paris. This was the first time the Forum was held in Africa, and FORTUNE was joined in hosting it for the first time by its sister media brands TIME and CNN.

财富全球论坛议程 / “Agenda” of Global Forum

全球论坛首次在非洲举办,恰逢世界杯足球赛也首次在南非举行决赛。这次比赛的声势浩大,多姿多彩,吸引了有史以来最多的关注,全世界共有208个国家的400家电视台对赛事进行了转播,观众的数量甚至超出了奥运会和超级碗。

It was fitting that the first Global Forum in Africa coincided with the first FIFA World Cup Finals in Africa, also held in South Africa, an extraordinarily robust and colorful event garnering more global eyeballs and attention than any other in human history, broadcast via 400 TV stations in 208 countries, with an audience size that dwarfs even the Olympic Games and the Super Bowl.

世界杯足球赛门票 / FIFA Ticket

我眼中的开普敦魅力无限,风景如画,堪比悉尼、温哥华和旧金山,海边还有无数上佳的餐厅(其中甚至有一些极品海鲜店)、商店和景点。开普敦大约有500万人口,因种族、民族繁多而成为南非彩虹形象的最佳代表。

开普敦人从过去种族隔离的痛苦中学到了很多,现在已经逐步发展成为更加包容、更加多元的社会,并以此为傲。开普敦市内生活着大型的犹太和穆斯林社团,他们彼此和睦相处。除此之外,开普敦还是世界第四大同性恋社团的所在地。

历史上的南非一直作为非洲大陆的门户,如今它的地位依然没有改变,在非洲与中国乃至亚洲其他地区的贸易和投资中发挥着重要的作用。

在论坛的开幕式上,南非金山大学人类进化与公众理解科学系高级讲师伯杰教授做了一篇内容翔实、有关地球人类起源于非洲的演讲。在演讲结束时,她向来自全球各地的代表发出这样的讯息:“欢迎回家”。

展望未来,非洲孕育着强大的商机。上述麦肯锡公司的调查还指出,从1995年至2005年,非洲在宏观经济改革及环境监管改善等方面已发生了巨大的改变(尽管水平参差不齐),加之全球商品市场繁荣昌盛,已促使非洲的平均投资回报率大大超过了世界其他地区。

作为趣闻,通过与其他与会代表的交流,我明显感觉这三天的活动不仅为大家提供了良好的沟通平台和美味佳肴,还有星球上最棒的的足球赛事作为娱乐,更重要的是它改变了许多极富影响力的人物的思想。而这正是举办此类活动希望实现的终极目标。

(未完待续)

What I saw of Cape Town is charming and picturesque, with scenic vistas as striking as Sydney, Vancouver, or San Francisco, and a waterfront area full of great restaurants (including some fabulous seafood), shopping, and sightseeing. It is a city of roughly 5 million people, who embody South Africa’s rainbow image in their ethnic and racial diversity.

Capetonians pride themselves on having learned from the painful past of Apartheid and evolved into a tolerant and inclusive society. The city has large and influential Jewish as well as Muslim communities who live in harmony with one another. It is home to the 4th largest gay community among world cities.

South Africa has a long tradition of being a gateway for large parts of the African continent, a role which it continues to play today, including in the context of trade and investment between Africa and China as well as other parts of Asia.

One of the opening presentations of the Forum was a very informative talk by Professor Lee Berger, Reader in Human Evolution and the Public Understanding of Science at the University of Witwatersrand, on the African origins of human life on our planet, which concluded with the message to all delegates from around the globe: “Welcome home.”

Looking ahead, the business case for Africa is very strong. The McKinsey study cited above describes important changes from 1995-2005 including macroeconomic reforms, improvements – albeit uneven ones — in the regulatory environment, and the global commodity boom as contributing factors to the fact that the average rates of return on investment in Africa have been significantly higher than in other parts of the world.

Anecdotally, from talking with other delegates at the Global Forum, my clear sense is that the three-day event not only provided good networking, fine food and entertainment against the backdrop of the best football on the planet, but much more importantly, it changed the minds of a lot of very influential people. That’s the highest goal that an event of this sort can aspire to.

(To be continued…)


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