Youth at an IRI training session. (Photo: IRI)
Paul Fagan is Director of Africa Programs for the International Republican Institute.
President Obama’s Forum with Young African Leaders gathered together more than 100 young Africans for three days to discuss how young people can positively impact the future of their continent. Representing 43 African nations, participants hailed from all facets of society, including journalists, entrepreneurs and human rights activists. The excitement of these young African leaders was palpable as they shared with each other their continued challenges and examples of success. At the conclusion of the President’s Forum however, the question still remains: Can youth change the future of Africa?
In a recent post, Alex Shkolnikov reflected on whether Africa was developing into a globally competitive economy, analogous to those of the emerging BRIC countries, concluding that improved governance was the key to making this a reality. A recent report from the McKinsey Global Institute entitled “Lions on the Move: The Progress and Potential of African Economies” lends significant support to this argument, by underscoring the vast potential of African economies. If properly harnessed, rising productivity, foreign investment, and cross-border trade could lift millions of Africans out of poverty over the next decade. Whether this will happen depends to a large extent on whether African leaders are willing to institute serious regulatory reforms, particularly in ways that encourage increased regional trade within the continent.
Farmers discussing along a canal in rural Ghana. (Photo: CIPE)
For farmers all across Africa, accessing capital to improve yields is a constant frustration. As business solutions to poverty and food security have come to the fore in international development, the plight of Africa’s farmers seeking capital is nothing new. At the same time, while not capturing nearly as much attention, investors on the other side of the table face the very same obstacles.
For the second year in a row, the Mo Ibrahim Foundation has come up empty-handed in finding eligible candidates for its Ibrahim Prize, a prize worth quite a notable chunk of change – $5M for the first 10 years, and then another $200K every year thereafter. Yet the award has actually only been given out twice – first in its inaugural year in 2007 and then again in 2008. What gives? The Ibrahim Prize, which celebrates excellence in African leadership looks for a couple key ingredients for its recipient: a democratically elected former African Executive Head of State or Government, who has served his/her term in office within the limits set by the country’s constitution and has left office in the last three years.
A market in Senegal. Can this street become the next hotbed of global economic growth? (Photo: CIPE)
Much has been said about the BRIC economies – Brazil, Russia, India, and China – the group that is slowly but surely assuming a prominent position in global markets, making the old debate about the first and third world obsolete. But is there a new BRIC on the horizon?
According to Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Managing Director of the World Bank – its Africa. In her his recent speech at Harvard’s Kennedy School, she argues that Africa is set to join BRICs as the dominant force in the global economy. For that to happen, according to Okonjo-Iweala three things are necessary:
Later this week, together with the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA-Ghana) we are holding a West Africa regional forum on the impact of the financial crisis on countries in the region and policy responses. In anticipation of the main conference, which will bring together as many as 100 public and private participants from Ghana, Togo, Mali, Senegal, and Nigeria we are holding a small public-private advocacy session to establish a common understanding of advocacy and discuss concrete reform priorities.
Some things I didn’t know about Africa:
- South Africa has 924 mobile phones per 1000 people; Eritrea has 22 per 1000 people.
- The highest connection charge for a business phone is $366.6 in Benin; the lowest is in Ghana at $0.7.
- In Sierra Leone 3 persons per 1,000 are Internet users
- For the period 2007, Zimbabwe has the highest adult literacy rate (91.2 percent); Mali and Burkina Faso have the lowest (28.7 percent)
- Cape Verde receives the highest net ODA per capita ($438.2); Nigeria receives the lowest ($9.5).
See all 50 things you don’t know about Africa on the World Bank website.