21st Century Africa may well come to be defined as the epoch of the private. From private security to private health insurance, services are relegated away from public authorities in the name of efficiency. But more fundamentally, private authorities (including celebrities) are called upon to validate in the name of the public and the citizenry. The logic of the consumer society is asserting itself in the context of international aid: the main duty of citizens in this society is to consume, not to produce or defend the country as in the past. The ideal citizen-consumer is never satisfied. Africa is often left out of discussions of global capital, emerging trends and the business of ‘development’ on the basis of misplaced romanticism, stale Afro-scepticism, or a presumed ‘lack of data.’ Yet, the scholars on this panel centre discussions of the privileged private firmly on the African experiences. The papers promise to spark a lively debate that crosses ideological boundaries about how we can raise questions that effectively critique the privatization of African public life.