October 2013


In this issue

“The problem with stereotypes isn’t that they aren’t true,” Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie told the audience at a TED talk in Oxford, England several years ago. “It’s that they are incomplete.” Throughout the lecture, and in her award-winning books set in Africa, she warns of what she calls “the danger of a single story”—the risk of critically misunderstanding entire cultures by ignoring the more nuanced, complicated elements that may not fit into a straightforward narrative.

Many have been lured into the trap of the single African story. But this issue of Handshake presents readers with a more accurate—and more exciting—narrative of African progress. This is the progress that attracts investors by emphasizing partnerships between the private sector and African governments committed to the best for their citizens.

The stories in this issue show how public-private partnerships (PPPs) are already lighting roads, powering homes, and keeping people healthy. As important as these existing PPPs are, the promise of PPPs in Africa is even greater, and it’s tied to changes in aid and investment structures that are already taking place. “The time is ripe for ‘smart aid,’” writes Donald Kaberuka, President of the African Development Bank, as he calls on the world to “rise above the tendency to answer modern problems by asking old questions and using old tools.”

As these articles and interviews demonstrate, when governments and investors forge partnerships to advance progress, they erase Africa’s “single story.” The stories that take its place—and the improvements introduced to people’s lives—will be told for generations.