Queen Sono is Netflix’s first African television show. The series was shot in various African locations, and several languages are interspersed with English (e.g., Afrikaans, Swahili, Tswana, isiXhosa). Queen Sono follows the story of a secret agent with a complicated past in South Africa.

Clip 1
  • Clip URL: https://criticalcommons.org/view?m=7n3xia6QP
  • Content Warning: gun violence
  • Concepts: Gains from trade, production possibilities, opportunity costs, comparative advantage, foreign direct investment, national spending approach, technology transfer
  • Background: In Queen Sono, we get hints of Africa’s abundance of natural resources, such as the diamond mine in episode 1 and the mention of an oil rig in episode 3. The non-governmental organization Afrifeed also accuses the company Superior Solutions of planning to exploit Africa’s natural resources. The heiress of the private arms company Superior Solutions concludes her speech by saying: “All these regions have the resources to support big businesses, to attract foreign direct investment. We all dream of an Africa that is at peace with itself, an Africa ready for a new and prosperous future.”
  • Question 1: Research what commodities Sub-Saharan African countries mainly export. Then, using trade theories, explain how African countries can benefit from trade.
  • Question 2: Table 1 illustrates the advantages of the two countries, expressed in terms of how many hours it takes to produce each good. To simplify, let’s say that each country has 100 worker hours.
Copper (hours per thousand tonnes)Computer (hours per unit)
Republic Of The Congo5200

Table 1. Number of Hours to Produce One Unit

First, calculate the production possibilities before any trade. Second, calculate the opportunity costs and discuss which country has a comparative advantage in producing copper and computers.

  • Question 3: Discuss whether foreign direct investment can help increase the economic growth of Africa’s poorer countries.
Clip 2
  • Clip URL: https://criticalcommons.org/view?m=ZR4JMhnvK
  • Concepts: Wealth of nations, role of institutions
  • Background: While Africa is abundant in natural resources, several African countries are among the poorest countries in the world. The Netflix series depicts the corruption of some African leaders and the legacy of apartheid in South Africa.
  • Question (Let’s Use Data): Find the most recent GDP per capita for five Sub-Saharan African countries. Compare the data to those of some developed countries (e.g., United States, Sweden, United Kingdom, Canada). Discuss if institutions play a role in encouraging economic growth. To answer this question, you may use the GDP per capita values (current U.S. dollars) from the World Bank website: https://data.worldbank.org/.