The Brief: AfDB Makes Case for Africa’s Industrialisation, Chimamanda Asked “Are There Bookshops in Nigeria?”

Akinwumi Adesina, AfDB President, stresses need for job creation and poverty reduction in Africa through the acceleration of the continent's industrialisation. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's response to startling question during interview.

Credit: AfDB

African Development Bank Makes Case for Africa’s Industrialisation

Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank, recently stressed the need for job creation and poverty reduction across Africa through the acceleration of the continent’s industrialisation.

Referring to data from the African Development Banks 2018 African Economic Outlook, he said infrastructure projects “significantly contribute to, propel, and sustain a country’s economic growth. Infrastructure, when well managed, provides the financial resources to do everything else.”

According to Adesina, economic diversification is a central factor in the resolution of a large number of challenges faced on the continent.

Urging African governments to support and encourage a move towards more labour-intensive sectors, he said “Agriculture must be at the forefront of Africa’s industrialisation,”, particularly with the fact that 70% of the continent’s population live in rural areas.

During the speech, given at the launch of the 2018 report, he also announced that the Bank would be organising the Africa Investment Forum on 7th-8th November 2018, in Johannesburg, South Africa, with the aim of mobilising funds for infrastructure development.

In its fifteen year of publication, the African Economic Outlook offers an overview of the economic policies and conditions of a large number of African economies.

Chimamanda: “Are There Bookshops in Nigeria?”

A question posed this week, to acclaimed Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, during an on-stage interview with a French journalist at the launch of La Nuit Des Idees in Paris.

Her response, dignified and poised, led to a standing ovation and cheer from many in the audience: “I think it reflects poorly on French people that you asked that question.”.

Following the social media interest garnered from the exchange and the ensuing uproar directed at the journalist, Chimamanda sought to offer more context and her view of the interview in a post she made on her Facebook page.

“I am a Nigerian writer whose early education was in Nigeria. It is reasonable to expect that Nigeria has at least one bookshop, since my books are read there.

Had the question been ‘is it difficult to get access to books?’ Or ‘are books affordable?’ It would have been different, worth engaging with, fair.

Bookshops are in decline all over the world. And that is worth discussing and mourning and hopefully changing. But the question ‘are there bookshops in Nigeria’ was not about that. It was about giving legitimacy to a deliberate, entitled, tiresome, sweeping, base ignorance about Africa. And I do not have the patience for that.

Perhaps French people cannot indeed conceive of Nigeria as a place that might have bookshops. And this, in 2018, in our age of interconnectedness and the Internet, is a shame.

That said, the journalist Caroline Broué was intelligent, thoughtful and well-prepared. When she asked the question, I was taken aback because it was far below the intellectual register of her previous questions.

I now know that she was trying to be ironic, to enlighten by ‘impersonating the ignorant,’ but because she had not exhibited any irony until then, I didn’t recognise it. Hers was a genuine, if flat, attempt at irony and I wish she would not be publicly pilloried…”