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Look at how Africa is changing

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The continent is on the move in the areas of economic development, conflict resolution and democratic governance

Adekeye Adebajo
The Observer, Sunday 27 February 2011

Africa, a place of spectacular beauty, continues to conjure up extreme images: of a paradisal Eden and of a conflict-ridden, disease-afflicted “dark continent”. In reality, Africa is resilient and, despite continuing challenges, is currently on the move in the areas of economic development, conflict resolution and democratic governance.

Africa has been the second-fastest growing region in the world after Asia in the past decade and its population of nearly 1 billion consumers will provide an important future global market. As the editorial in last week’s Observer noted: “Europe and the UK have been slow to adjust to the rise of an Africa powered by economic growth and a burgeoning consumer boom.”

China, unlike the west, is investing heavily in Africa’s infrastructure sectors – roads, railways, electricity – and has established a strong presence in its extractive sectors.

I am a Nigerian and my area of expertise is conflict resolution. Long-running conflicts in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and south Sudan have been largely brought to an end, while the new state of South Sudan is close to being born following a peaceful referendum. While many of these conflicts have been calmed through the help of the United Nations, regional bodies such as the Economic Community of West African States and the African Union (AU) have also sacrificed blood and treasure in a bid to achieve Pax Africana.

Nigeria and South Africa have been leading peacekeeping missions and seeking to promote regional integration. Other potential powers include the DRC in Central Africa, Kenya in East Africa and Algeria in North Africa.

In the area of governance, between 1960 and 1990, only four civilian leaders in Africa voluntarily handed over power, while no ruling party lost power. However, since the end of the cold war, ruling parties in Ghana, Senegal, Kenya, and Zambia have been voted out. Seventeen elections will take place in Africa this year. Military regimes from Togo, Mauritania, Madagascar and Niger have been sanctioned by the AU, while “people’s revolutions” have toppled long-ruling despots in Egypt and Tunisia, even as another currently challenges Tripoli’s tyrant, Gaddafi.

To improve governance, African leaders created an African Peer Review Mechanism in 2003 which 30 countries have joined. The system involves governments, civil society and the private sector and encourages countries to adopt sound policies, priorities and standards for political and economic development.

Africans continue to pursue the quest to break the chains of “global apartheid” by seeking greater influence within inequitable international institutions such as the UN, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organisation. America and Europe still spend more than $150bn annually on agricultural subsidies in a sector in which 70% of Africans find employment. These structural obstacles must be urgently removed to ensure that the quest for Africa’s renaissance is realised.

Comments

* Africa has made some very small steps in the right direction, while remaining very far back. Yet in the long run I’m hopeful for them. The last shall be first and the first shall be last.


* There are still many obstacles to get around/over, as you say, many stand in your way too.

* Just make sure you keep your independence. Don’t become depedent on China for investment and money and try to keep as much under the control of your own people too, though that will be hard. Many are fighting for a unified peaceful Africa. But so many push against it for their own personal gain.


* I’m all for “Africa’s renaissance”, but spare us the traffic warden’s please. The last time i was in Africa, i found the continent could scarcely afford to be without them itself, let alone exporting them to every street corner in london.


* Africans continue to pursue the quest to break the chains of “global apartheid” 
by seeking greater influence within inequitable international institutions 
such as the UN, 
the World Bank, 
the International Monetary Fund and 
the World Trade Organisation.

* Unpolitical business is good for the poor around the world. There is separation of church and state. There should be separation of state and business. Punishing developing countries by depriving them of economic growth with sanctions or conditioned intern’l involvement and investment only hurts the poor and powerless among the population and those who need work for a livelihood.


* Africa is doing the tango – one step forward two steps backwards.


* The main problem for post-Independence Africa is that it has never been able to feed itself and is now at the mercy of the price increases in basic staples such as wheat, rice and milk. Huge population growth has been sustained by food aid. The Chinese are simply using the improved infrastructure to remove finite raw materials. They are not settling and farming like the British did. Where is the manufacturing? In Asia. This Chinese scramble for Africa is simply wholesale pillage.The profits will not benefit Africans. With the growth in world population outstripping food supply Africans need to be better farmers. Yet nobody seems to want to be a farmer. Most of the populations in African countries are under 25 and they are heading for the sprawling cities to make a fast buck. There is something wrong when people have mobile phones but no basic sanitation. Southern Rhodesia was the breadbasket of the surrounding region and continued to be so as Zimbabwe. Until Mugabe threw the farmers out and reduced the country to just another charity case. Ironically many of these farmers have accepted generous inducements to take their skills to other African countries. The continent’s troubles are only going to get worse because of the population explosion. The Pope’s edicts on birth control have been a (ahem) Godsend to the NGO’s. Ever more work means an expanding business and more “customers”. Africa needs all the farmers it can get to break free of these charity overlords. It also needs access to markets and a fair price for it’s produce.


*First of all Africa has 50+ countries , its a continent and each nation has MANY complex issues which needs resolving. There are different religions, languages etc…it would be ever so difficult to try and ‘unify’ Africa. Some countries make progress more than others, but some DONT at all and my country (Somalia) hasn’t.

* Im not losing hope but i cant help but feel apart from corruption there is something else lingering in the background which has prevented African nations from growing.


* Nigeria and South Africa have been leading peacekeeping missions and seeking to promote regional integration

* Sadly if the above is true its the only positive thing one can say. Nigeria, as anyone who has been there knows, is full of corruption at all levels. The hydrocarbon wealth is kept in the pockets of a few and has done little to benefit the people as a whole. S. Africa is still full of poverty and riddled by crime.
Of China has invested heavily in Africa but not for the benefit of the Africans but to fuel its own urgent need for resources.
Sadly most nations in the Continent are ruled by corrupt leaders who show no signs of change.Vast areas of it’s land are rented out for the exclusive use of other nations, its wildlife is disappearing, its people are trying to get out and its problems are still blamed on the past – colonialism.


* More has to be done to make sure that the growth isn’t restricted to a small elite. But I agree, things are on the move!! 🙂


*The question is are Africans happy to welcome the Chinese and work alongside them? According to a recent documentary the Africans feel threatened by the entrepreneurship of new comers! Will this subside or will it escalate hate crimes?


* Look at how Africa is changing
The continent is on the move in the areas of economic development, conflict resolution and democratic governance
I’ve been watching how Africa has changed ever since colonialism ended.
To be perfectly honest, it gets worse each year.


* It seems the author is focusing on sub-Saharan Africa – no mention on the historic developments in the African countries of Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya.

* Speaking of just sub-Saharan Africa, we should welcome positive trends in governance, accountability, and democratic process. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, however, as large swathes of Africa are food insecure; most people are outside the rule of law; and economic growth is based largely on extractive industries and somewhat dodgy Chinese investment.
Let us not forget the dogged refusal of African powers and leaders to deal effectively with Mugabe and other autocratic nutjobs.


* It seems the author is focusing on sub-Saharan Africa – no mention on the historic developments in the African countries of Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya.


* China, unlike the west, is investing heavily in Africa’s infrastructure sectors – roads, railways, electricity – and has established a strong presence in its extractive sectors.

* Yes, we did that too when we were running Africa for our own profit…..
Expect a 19th century approach backed by 21st century technolgy from the Chinese.
Make that 19th century minus the missionaries and educators.

* Hopefully Africa will go the way of the members of the Europe Union, as we have avoided fighting each other for some considerable time now.
Achieving democracy, the rule of law and as-honest-as-possible politicians is possible with hard work in the promotion of establishments needed to support this kind of workable, pragmatic ideal.
I wish Africa all the best.


* The hope of Africa lies with its people..the huge and often unrealised potential of all those living in poverty. Getting a grip on corruption and venal politicians will be a good start


* The Guardian is quite happy with articles like this one which effectively reduce `Africa` to one homogeneous unit.
The author, of course, will know perfectly well that it is a nonsense to claim that Egypt or Algeria have much in common with South Africa or Kenya or Rwanda. And unless he is abnormally well-travelled he presumably doesn`t know much about most `African` places.
I guess you have to be a PC multi-culti type to say `they are all the same, can we commission an article about “Africa” and what is happening there`?


* “Im not losing hope but i cant help but feel apart from corruption there is something else lingering in the background which has prevented African nations from growing.”.
Perhaps, the “something else lingering in the background” that you are feeling is population explosion?
Why should China be the only nation on earth to have the good sense to formally restrict its population growth? Try as it might, even now, and as propserous as it is, China finds it difficult to house and feed its population.
What makes African, Arab and South America populations feel they are exempt from commonsense.


* ‘One billion consumers will provide an important future global market’
Apparently It will be 2 billion by 2030 and anyone who thinks they will want to stay in a disintegrating Continent is living in cloud cuckoo land. Africa and Europe are heading for an almighty clash as a tidal wave of humanity tries to force their way over our weak borders.


* It makes a pleasant change to have good news stories from Africa. I hope very much that the ones reported in this article are true. I wonder on the other hand how much sense it makes to report on Africa as a single entity. Would it be meaningful to report on economic progress , or democratic governance in Europe taken as a whole? In relatively good times this would allow for positive reports while appalling counter examples are ignored.

* Continents are geological entities (well, more or less, I know that Turkey and Russia present problems and that Israel appears in the Euro-vision Song Contest). How much sense does it make to assume that continents have a common political and economic identity that makes it possible to report on them as a single entity?

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