It is the people of Africa who will decide if recent progress will continue apace, or if as-yet unresolved problems will be allowed to wipe out a decade’s worth of advancement.
Over the past ten years, Africa has made tremendous progress. As Secretary of State John Kerry wrote in a recent opinion piece, “real income has increased more than 30 percent, reversing two decades of decline. Seven of the world’s 10 fastest-growing economies are in Africa, and GDP is expected to rise 6 percent per year in the next decade. HIV infections are down nearly 40 percent in sub-Saharan Africa and malaria deaths among children have declined 50 percent. Child mortality rates are falling, and life expectancy is increasing.”
Going forward, it is the people of Africa who will decide if this progress will continue apace, or if as-yet unresolved problems will be allowed to wipe out a decade’s worth of advancement.
Two of the major obstacles to Africa’s future advancement are corruption, and lack of security. Corruption costs Africans tens of billions of dollars. As a result, the economic growth so many countries are beginning to realize may never reach the vast majority of citizens. These are funds that should be invested into the continent’s greatest resource: its people; not lining the pockets of a chosen few.
At the same time, past disagreements must not be allowed to cloud the future. “The African Union’s commitment to silence the guns of Africa by 2020 is an ambitious goal,” said Secretary Kerry. “It is the right goal. It is a vision worth fighting for, and one that [the United States] will do everything in our power to help you achieve.”
It will take a lot of political will on part of the leadership, and Africa people united for a common purpose, to address and resolve these challenges.
“I have absolutely no doubt that this could be an inflection point for the new Africa, a time and a place where Africans bend the arc of history towards reform, and not retribution; towards peace and prosperity, not revenge and resentment.
“There is no pre-determined destiny out there that pushes us in a direction; this is up to the will of the people, and the will of leaders. We need to make certain that we grab the choice that seizes the future, and we need to refuse to be dragged back into the past,” said Secretary of State Kerry.
”The United States could be a vital catalyst in this continent’s continued transformation, and President Obama is committed to that transformation.