New Fractures, Old Wounds: Africa and the Renewal of South Agency

Carlos Lopes


Africa has recently come to the forefront of world politics as part of the emerging South. Its increased prominence in the global discourse as a “new frontier of development” signals the recognition of its economic potential. Indeed, the continent has registered an average 5 per cent annual GDP growth rate over the past decade. However, there is more to the story than that: The rising profile of the African continent also reveals the growing role of a number of its countries in the emergence of a new South agency. It is argued that South–South cooperation is an opportunity. The discussion of the current situation in Africa understood as a continent in all its diversity including sub-Saharan Africa, but also the Maghreb and Egypt, will therefore be placed into this wider context. The renewal of a South agency witnessed over the past decade is somewhat different from the trilateral alliance of Asia–Africa–Latin America formed in the wake of decolonization. Current mega-trends demonstrate that the global South, driven by a number of regional powers, will play a vital role in shaping the twenty-first century. Understanding the complexities of this renewed agency is vital for addressing old wounds that marked the emergence of a South voice in the not-so-distant past.

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