There are times in life when you can become so submerged and immersed in one’s own problems and challenges that you lose track of some of the good and some of the truly remarkable taking place elsewhere in the neighborhood.
Today we break with our accustomed focus on the challenges we face in our country and in our region as we look in, on some of the good news coming in from Africa.
Yes! Good news is coming in from the Motherland; with that good news concerning what seems its renaissance.
At long last, there is good news coming in from Africa.
This new information comes our way from both the International Monetary Fund and from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
Sub-Saharan Africa is on the path of economic progress, but it must address longer-term challenges to its future, including structural transformation, more inclusive growth, and conflict.
This point was made by IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde.
During a January 4–8 trip to Malawi and Cote d’Ivoire, Lagarde emphasized the continent’s huge potential, but also warned about potential obstacles.
“I cannot help but be impressed by the continent’s resilience … in the face of the most serious disturbances seen by the world’s economy since the Great Depression.” she said in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire.
Noting that the IMF now expects African economic growth of around 5¼ percent in 2013, Lagarde said “The winds blow differently. Change is coming. Over the past decade, Africa has been the world’s second-fastest growing region, after emerging Asia.”
In Lilongwe, Malawi, Lagarde hailed the government’s economic reform program. “Malawi is half across the river, and the other bank is within reach,” she said. In Cote d’Ivoire, she commended President Ouattara for his efforts to restructure the economy.
Speaking in Lilongwe, Lagarde said that Africa’s resilience was homegrown; this being a testimony to the fact that African countries were able to take advantage of the strong foundations they had built in the years leading up to the global crisis.
She also noted that reorientation of trade and investment toward a more diverse set of partners.
Today nontraditional partners account for 50 percent of African imports and 60 percent of exports.
And of paramount importance is the fact that China is now the region’s largest single trading partner.
Interestingly, Africa is already the world’s second fastest growing economy after expanding 5% a year in the past two years, well above the global average, and Africa’s GDP is on track to grow by 5.3% this year.
This we have learned from a televised debate with the presidents of Nigeria and South Africa and business leaders and as reported at the 43rd World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland.
Infrastructural development may be singled out as probably the key driver to Africa’s continued economic progress.
More to the point:-While most African states have achieved political stability, which is important for investment, there are some risks inclusive of governance, economic and political exclusion, and weak institutions.
Reference might also be made to some of what South Africa’s Jacob Zuma says concerning Africa’s immediate prospects.
He stresses that the countries that comprise Africa are determined to consolidate their gains. “We realize that intra-trade is not enough and are working hard on that,” he said. Africa is not consumed with conflict, he added. “We are also dealing with the economic issues. We’ve just discussed and agreed to integrate three of the five economic regions, creating a free trade area of more than half a billion people.”
This is truly great news not only for Africa, but also for the world.
At long last, Africa is –with the huge exception of the Congo – politically stable, as Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, President of Nigeria has so sagely noted.
In addition, Africa’s leaders clearly recognize that there are risks, but they said they are dealing with them.
Nigeria, for example, is diversifying beyond oil into commercial agriculture to avert economic damage from volatile commodity prices. On recent labour unrest in South Africa, Zuma said solutions are being discussed by all sectors, including the government, labor unions, businesses and civil society.
This African renaissance proves that there are cycles in the fate of all peoples where on occasion, some are down and others are on the rise.
Who knows? Haiti’s turn in our region may well be in the offing.