What Rising TV Ownership Reveals About Africa's Future

A shopper views televisions for sale at a Makro store in Johannesburg Photograph by Nadine Hutton/Bloomberg

The usual story about African development over the last few decades is, simply, that it hasn’t developed. It is a region mired in permanent poverty—destined by geography or disease burden or corruption or ethnic division to everlasting misery. That story should be placed in the fiction aisle. Quality-of-life measures have been improving for decades across the continent, more recently followed by official measures of economic output in a number of countries. And recent analysis of survey evidence suggests that households across the region have become far wealthier than even those improving official output statistics would suggest.

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