A few rich nations in Africa are trying to revive the hope of the 1990s that this vast continent of 700 million people might be able to catch up with the rest of the world.
Just a few years ago, democracy and market economies were rising in Africa. But wars and age-old corruption and factionalism have since halted much of that progress.
Last month, South Africa and Nigeria proposed that the West let Africa set its own terms in its economic dealing. And last week, Libya hosted a summit in which most African leaders agreed to begin setting up an economic union like Europe's.
Too big to neglect, Africa needs some sort of grand plan. It is home to 23 of the world's poorest nations. While these latest efforts have many flaws, the West must engage African leaders more in designing solutions for a continent still full of promise.
(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor