Many people fail to understand the difference between mimicry and innovation. Progress can only come about through innovation. No matter how good a country looks via mimicry of its betters, it's essentially unimportant, because they aren't a factor in human progress. They won't make any contribution to the future of mankind, they'll just continue to parasitically live off of the contributions of others.
When people point to Ethiopia as a shining symbol of African achievement, you have to understand that Ethiopia never produced anything unique to themselves. They simply borrowed everything from abroad. Ethiopia's location, just across the red sea from the Arabian peninsula, made them more a part of the middle east than Africa proper. Ethiopia lived off of the intrinsic strength of the Caucasian nations bordering them, whereas those nations did not depend on Ethiopia to become great themselves. The same is true of Mali. Mali did have a big city that was very showy, but it was all a result of their connections to Arab traders who they borrowed from. Their Islamic faith was borrowed from their Caucasian neighbors, as was their architecture, etc. You can't judge Africans by their 'edge' countries which were influenced by their Caucasian neighbors. Tourist islands in the Caribbean face the same problem. The high standard of living in these tourist islands is due entirely to their Caucasian neighbors who are providing the tourist dollars, it has nothing to do with the native black islanders. The ancient Zimbabwe ruins are due to, believe it or not, Jewish traders who moved all the way down there in the ancient past and influenced the natives both genetically and culturally. African Americans have too many Caucasian neighbors and too many Caucasian genes to be a representative sample of Africa either, so their high per capita GDP versus the outside world is meaningless. You can only judge Africa by purely African countries who have no contact with the outside world.
This is called isolating your variables. It's standard procedure in science. A polluted sample with any foreign influences is considered corrupted and must be discarded. We need a clean laboratory environment where nothing from outside interferes with our study of the nature of what's inside. To get a true picture of the Negro, you have to travel to the hearts of darkness, the places that never saw a Caucasian in their lives: Congo, Cameroon, Rwanda, Uganda, Nigeria, Niger, etc.
In the modern period, almost every single black country is at least somewhat influenced by the outside world, and so almost all of them have managed basic things like large buildings, roads, clothing, written language, etc. But these were all innovations when we originally arrived. They had to pick them all up from us. It was not native to their own 'civilization.' As a result, the most accurate measure of black 'achievement' is 'zero.' It isn't 'greater Zimbabwe,' 'Mali,' 'Ethiopia,' or 'Egypt.'
The same is true on the other side of accomplishment. Currently East Asians are outperforming Caucasians by many rubrics. However, some of the best East Asian 'achievers' actually live in white majority nations. It's evident that their greater ability to succeed is due to the foreign influence of all the whites around them, since they were never so impressive scientifically, economically or artistically when living amidst themselves. For East Asians actually living in East Asia, we have to remember that China was still a backwards, impoverished land full of tyranny and famine when the West started sailing around the world to meet them. Korea was just a puppet state of China, equally poor and worthless. And Japan stayed a feudal era country wielding bows and arrows deep into the 1800's. These nations had no higher math, no scientific method, no musical tradition equivalent to our Classical music orchestras, no artistic tradition equivalent to our Michelangelo Renaissance, no literary tradition equivalent to our Shakespearean England, nothing.
The indigenous accomplishment of Japan, China and Korea was decent -- they had some inventions we didn't, some art that was worthwhile, some philosophy that had a few insights we lacked, but in reading Murray's Human Accomplishment, you quickly realize that it pales in significance or quantity compared to either ancient Europe's achievements (Greco-Roman political freedom, military prowess, philosophical profundity, the people's general prosperity, artistic ability, just law codes, etc), or modern Europe's achievements (the steam engine, electricity, computers, landing on the moon, splitting the atom, the airplane, etc.).
Comparing a few pitiful inventions of the Chinese like 'the compass' to the absolute juggernaut of modern science which was 100% invented by whites is just a joke. There is no comparison. The world does not operate today on the basis of Chinese inventions. Everyone, everywhere, is using exclusively European inventions in every aspect of their daily lives. Nor was the 'compass' a necessary antecedent to the steam engine, the computer, or calculus, so China doesn't somehow get credit for all western inventions through some sort of arcane back door either.
The present success of East Asians is due to their mimicry of the West. They are simply adopting our inventions -- human rights, democracy, equal treatment of women, capitalism, the scientific method, the rule of law, etc -- and becoming rich off of them. Their books, movies, music, and tv shows are based off of our books, movies, music, and TV, all of which we invented on our own. The fact that their books, movies, music, and TV is often better than ours doesn't mean East Asians are superior to whites. It just means that sometimes even apprentices can surpass their masters. Until these apprentices invent their own art forms, political models and scientific theories which we end up mimicking, color me unimpressed. Great mimics don't make great innovators. The two are entirely separate fields.
Even today, the majority of innovation stems from the West. The nobel prizes distributed this year went primarily to Jews, ie, Caucasians, not East Asians. This has been true over the entire previous century. It appears fated to continue for the entire next century as well.