A rising Africa! Judging by the growth of economic activity in many parts of Africa, it can be said that a silent but momentous change is under way on the continent, writes sigi Osagie.

Author:Osagie, Sigi

TROUBLES IN LIBYA, TUNISIA, Egypt. Algeria, Morocco and who knows where next? The wave of unrest and civil uprisings that has swept across North Africa and the Middle East is a clear message from the mass populace that it is time for change.

The frustration most African citizens feel is a direct result of leadership failure across the continent. For decades, Africa's development has been hampered by ineffective leadership and endemic kleptoc-racy. As a result, the continent's immense potential has remained largely untapped, certainly since the end of colonialism.

However, the unrest in North Africa is the latest indication of a turning tide in Affica. Earlier signs are easy to spot if one looks closely enough. Countties like Egypt and Morocco have enjoyed the economic benefits of established apparel manufacturing and tourism sectors for a while.

More recently, a few other African states have joined a slowly expanding group of regional countries making great strides in improving political stability and economic development - countries like Ghana, Lesotho, Botswana and Senegal, where economic and industrial development has evolved considerably in areas as diverse as property, hospitality, tourism, banking, ICT and call-centre outsourcing.

The advantages in structural development that such African countries are statting to enjoy are sometimes astounding. Ghana's capital Accra's skyline, for example, is now proliferated by swanky skyscrapers and impressive architectural creations, serviced by an ever-improving utilities infrastructure. Electricity in Ghana is taken for granted these days, a far cry from the situation just 20 years ago when many Ghanaians still flocked to countries like South Africa and Nigeria for a better life. Now it's the Nigerians who are heading to Ghana!

Yet, even in Nigeria, the erstwhile "Giant of Africa" rhat has been blighted by corruption and fraudulent practices since the late 1980s, similar improvements can be seen. Gommercial banking infrastructure in Nigeria is quietly but rapidly catching up with standards in Western countries. Today a bank in Nigeria can send a text message notification to your mobile phone the instant a payment is made into your account; neither Barclays, NatWest or HSBC do that in England.

Savvy capital investors have obviously spotted the development trend in Africa and the financial benefits this can yield. The level of foreign direct investment has grown astronomically, as investors...

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