Total Pageviews

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Out of Africa

In paleoanthropology, Out of Africa I is the first series of hominin expansions into Eurasia, which took place from 1.8 to 0.8 million years ago. According to the recent African origin of modern humans hypothesis (Out of Africa II), anatomically modern humans started moving into Eurasia c. 100,000 years ago, replacing previous hominins. Early hominins moved out of Africa in at least three waves. (source)

The oldest hominin sites are in East Africa. The earliest evidence for retouched tools is from Kada Gona, Ethiopia, and dates back to 2.6 – 2.5 million years ago. Homo habilis is the first member of the Homo line; it is first attested in Lake Turkana, Kenya. Homo erectus seems to appear later, its earliest remains dating back to c. 1.9 – 1.6 million years ago at Koobi Fora, Kenya. The two species would have lived face to face in East Africa for nearly half a million years. (source)

Reasons for leaving East Africa may have been an increasing population and a decreasing food supply. Homo erectus appears to have followed animal migrations to the north during wetter periods, likely as a source of scavenged food. Some scientists suggest that the success of hominins within Eurasia - once out of Africa - is in part due to the absence of zoonotic diseases outside their original habitat. The majority of these diseases are still restricted to hot and damp African environments. Once hominins had moved out into dryer and colder habitats of higher latitudes, one major limiting factor in population growth was out of the equation. (source)

The 20th and 21st century show(ed) new waves out of Africa. In the previous century it was the pursuit of the "Western dream". The current wave is mainly an escape from poverty and/or war. One could argue that the reasons are quite similar to the ones of some million years ago.

Although the main reason for leaving Africa is poverty, Africa has plenty of natural resources (e.g., precious metals, oil) and is basically a very rich continent. The continent is home to a third of the planet’s mineral reserves, a tenth of the oil and it produces two-thirds of the diamonds. The poverty amongst its citizens is only due to the enormous inequality in the distribution of African wealth. A similar situation has existed in Europe for many centuries. Hence, there is no valid reason why the situation in Africa could not change.

Over the past decade Africa was among the world’s fastest-growing continents - its average annual rate was more than 5% - buoyed in part by improved governance and economic reforms. Economic growth is starting to come from other places. Manufacturing output in the continent is expanding as quickly as the rest of the economy. Growth is even faster in services, which expanded at an average rate of 2.6% per person across Africa between 1996 and 2011. Many countries, including Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique and Nigeria, have recently revised their estimates of GDP to account for their growing non-resource sectors. Despite falling commodity prices, the outlook also seems favourable. The World Bank reckons that Sub-Saharan Africa’s economy will expand by about 5% in 2015. Telecommunications, transportation and finance are all expected to spur economic growth. (The Economist)

I am quite hopeful about Africa's future. Perhaps I'm biased as I have learned to love Africa.