Billed as Africa’s first home-grown military aircraft, the Advanced High-Performance Reconnaissance Light Aircraft (AHRLAC) made its first test flight in South Africa this week, marking a milestone in the continent’s aviation history.
On Wednesday, August, 13, as the AHRLAC descended from the Pretoria skies and taxied to a halt outside a hangar at the Wonderboom airport north of the South African capital, engineers and officials beamed and high-fived each other.
The first military aircraft to be fully developed in Africa had completed its first public test flight after three years and 315,000 hours of work on its design and construction.
The new, multi-purpose military aircraft was designed and built by two South African companies - Aerosud in partnership with the Paramount Group.
Initially conceived as a design study into the viability of producing a low-cost manned alternative to UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles), the project developed into an initiative to produce an affordable intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) light-strike platform targeted at developing nations as well as countries with sophisticated defence capabilities.
This time for Africa
For the manufacturers of the AHLRAC, Wednesday’s successful public test flight marked a milestone in the long-cherished goal of having “African solutions to African problems” – a slogan frequently cited at international summits.
“The emergence of Africa as an increasingly important global economic power brings with it the expectation on the world stage that Africa must itself play a greater role in avoiding and controlling the perpetuation of violence and conflict on the continent. The solution is to build African capabilities to solve these African challenges,” said Ivor Ichikowitz, Paramount’s executive chairman, in a statement on the company website.
The aircraft was designed and built by a team of more than 60 engineers and technicians. Of the 6,000 parts in the aircraft, 98% were designed using sophisticated software and produced locally by the engineering team.
“Every single part of the aircraft was pre-designed on a computer which allowed it to have a jigless construction,” said AHRLAC Holdings CEO Paul Potgieter in a company statement. “This means that every part fits together, much like a Meccano set, which saves vast amounts of money and time – especially when exporting globally.”
Competition in the attack helicopter market
In an interview with the British defence weekly, IHS Jane’s, during the Farnborough Airshow last month, Ichikowitz noted that a number of developing nations in Africa and South America, as well as more developed countries in the Middle East and Europe, had expressed interest in the new aircraft. He declined, however, to name the countries.
"While we originally targeted the developing world, the recent economic crisis meant that many developed nations began thinking along the same lines and we are starting to receive a great deal of interest from the developed world," said Ichikowitz.
Designed for multiple roles, the AHRLAC can be used for anti-poaching missions, border patrols, anti-trafficking, anti-piracy, anti-insurgent, as well as anti-terror operations.
The proposed weapons fit include a slightly off centreline nose-mounted 20 mm cannon and the six underwing hardpoints can accommodate a variety of 'dumb' and precision-guided munitions, according to IHS Jane’s.
The company sees the new twin-seat aircraft as a competition not in the light attack turboprops, but in the attack helicopter market.
"If anyone needs to be concerned about the AHRLAC, it is the [attack] helicopter manufacturers,” said Ichikowitz in an interview with IHS Jane’s. "We see this aircraft cannibalising the [attack] helicopter market, in that it has a very good short take-off and landing [STOL] capability and can operate from unprepared airstrips, but at a fraction of the cost of a helicopter."
For now its exact production date is being kept secret, although the first plane is expected to roll off the manufacturing floor within two years, according to South African media reports. Pricing and availability of the AHRLAC has yet to be revealed.
Africa accounted for only 9 per cent of the world’s population in 1950, but by the end of this century about 40 per cent of all humans (and nearly half of all children) will be African, heralding one of the fastest and most radical demographic changes in history, the report says.
While every other continent is seeing a slower rise in births, or even a decline, UNICEF projects that 1.8 billion babies will be born in Africa over the next 35 years, and the total African population will nearly quadruple to about 4.2 billion by the end of the century.
Africa could reap a massive demographic dividend from its bigger labour force and relatively fewer dependents, the report says. The population boom could “transform the continent, breaking centuries-old cycles of poverty and inequality.”
But the opposite is also possible, and requires urgent discussion soon, UNICEF warns. “Unless investment in the continent’s children is prioritized, the sheer burden of population expansion has the potential to undermine attempts to eradicate poverty through economic growth, and worse, could result in rising poverty and marginalization of many if growth were to falter.”
The new projections are based on the latest revised numbers from the UN’s population division, showing an even stronger shift in child demographics in Africa’s direction. Until recently, the UN had predicted that one-third of the world’s children would be living in Africa by mid-century, yet that prediction is now believed to be an underestimate. Instead, 37 per cent of the world’s children will be African by 2050, and more than 40 per cent of births will take place in Africa.
The population explosion will be biggest in West Africa, especially in Nigeria. By 2050, Nigeria alone will account for an astounding one-tenth of all births in the world, the report says, and its total population will reach nearly a billion by the end of the century.
Fertility rates are declining in Africa, but they remain far higher than anywhere else in the world, the report says. At the same time, life expectancy and child survival rates have drastically improved in Africa, helping explain the population boom.
“Within 20 years, Africa will have its first generation of children who can expect to reach pensionable age,” UNICEF says, predicting that African life expectancy will reach 65 years in the next two decades. (By contrast, in the 1950s, African life expectancy was less than 40.)
As part of these trends, Africa will become increasingly urbanized and crowded. In 1950, its population density was just eight persons per square kilometre. By mid-century, Africa will hold 80 people per square kilometre. Its megacities will soar in size, with the population of Lagos nearly doubling to 24 million by 2030 and Kinshasa growing from 12 million to 20 million in the same period.
Much of the population boom is occurring in the poorest and most fragile countries. The world’s highest fertility rate is believed to be in the impoverished West African nation of Niger, where the average woman has 7.5 children, the UNICEF report says. The next-highest fertility rate is in a neighbouring country, Mali, where the average woman has 6.8 children.
The report calls for “courageous and determined action” to face the challenges of the African population boom. It cites, for example, the continued lack of contraception for many African women. About a quarter of all women in marriages or unions in sub-Saharan Africa lack the reproductive health services they need, the report says. It also calls for stronger programs to improve the education of girls and to end child marriage.
Geoffrey York, Africa Bureau Chief for The Globe and Mail
First lady Michelle Obama embraced her family’s African roots in a speech on Wednesday, telling a group of young Africans that the “blood of Africa” runs through her veins as she urged changing traditional beliefs on the worth of educating women.
Her husband had shied away from discussing his African heritage in his own remarks to the 500 Africans finishing a six-week Washington leadership fellowship on Monday, referencing his Kenyan father only once and in the question-and-answer session. But Michelle Obama said as an African American woman, her discussion with the African youth was “deeply personal.”
“The roots of my family tree are in Africa,” the first lady told the cheering crowd. “My husband’s father was born and raised in Kenya. Members of our extended family still live there. I have had the pleasure of traveling to Africa many times over the years, including four trips as first lady, and I have brought my mother and my daughters along whenever I can.”
“The blood of Africa runs through my veins, and I care deeply,” Obama said, addressing her listeners as her “brothers” and “sisters.”
Three months before congressional elections that could determine the fate of much of President Obama’s platform, Michelle Obama’s popularity remains high while her husband’s has sunk.
The White House is making women’s empowerment a theme in a Washington African leaders summit next week. Michelle Obama said problems with girls’ education often stemmed from traditional “attitudes and beliefs” that exist even in the United States and lead to issues such as the gender pay gap and an underrepresentation of women in leadership.
She said men worldwide needed to “look into their hearts and souls and ask if they truly view women as their equals.”
“I am who I am today because of the people in my family, particularly the men in my family, who valued me and invested in me from the day I was born,” Obama said.
“And as I grew up, the men who raised me set a high bar for the type of men I’d allow into my life - which is why I went on to marry a man who had the good sense to fall in love with a woman who was his equal, to treat me as such - a man who supports and reveres me, and who supports and reveres our daughters as well,” Obama said.
There is a story that governments of wealthy countries like to tell about the rich world's relationship with Africa. It is a story of generosity, charity and benevolence. It is a story of selfless aid givers supporting the needy and impoverished people of Africa.
While this is the story that governments like to tell, it is not the correct story. Research launched this week by Health Poverty Action, with a number of African and UK partners, shows that $192 billion a year is being taken out of Africa by the rich world - almost six and a half times the amount of 'aid' it receives.
Our research examined outflows from Africa across a wide range of areas. These include illicit financial flows, the repatriation of multinational company profits, debt repayments, loss of skills, illegal logging and fishing and the costs imposed as a result of climate change. We compared these to inflows - including aid, foreign investment and remittances.
We found that Africa's net loss is $58 billion a year. To put this amount into context, it is over one and a half times the amount of additional money that would be needed to deliver affordable health care to everyone in the world.
The current debate about the role of the UK in ending global poverty focuses mostly on how much aid we should give. As politicians line up to defend our 'proud record' as a donor, for the purposes of political point scoring, the charity sector has tended to respond by applauding the aid budget - and in so doing has reinforced this aid-based perception of our relationship with Africa.
We need to ask why then, despite years of this 'generosity', is the end of global poverty still nowhere in sight? Rather than tackling poverty, this false narrative has instead helped to reinforce paternalistic notions of Africa as a poor and corrupt continent, with helpless people in need of intervention from wealthy countries. The narrative ignores the fact that the rich aid givers are in fact taking more than they give.
In reality, Africa is not poor, but its people are being kept in poverty by a combination of inequitable policies, huge disparities in power, and criminal activities perpetuated and sustained by wealthy elites, both inside and outside of the continent.
The UK, with its network of tax havens, is at the heart of this theft from the continent. Yet this truth is rarely told, while politicians and charities praise the rich world for being the saviours of the poor. This perverse portrayal allows wealthy governments to publicly celebrate their 'generosity, while continuing to be party to the sustained looting of Africa - increasing inequality and creating the very poverty they profess to be solving through aid.
As the general election approaches, we - and especially the international NGO sector - must demand that the main political parties clearly set out not how much aid they will provide for the poor, but focus on what they will do to address the far bigger issue - putting a stop to the amounts regularly stolen from the poor.
It is time for us to face an inconvenient truth. It is not the world that aids Africa, but Africa that aids the world. Even more, it's time for us to communicate that truth.
Visit website to read the full report.
Martin Drewry has a long background in the voluntary sector, initially as an award-winning grass-roots community development worker in the UK, before moving to international development. After a few years as national secretary of World Action, a pioneering Methodist programme enabling young people and adults to take action for social justice, he spent the next decade as head of campaigns at Christian Aid. Here he played leading roles in Jubilee 2000, Drop the Debt, the Trade Justice Movement and was one of the elected coordinators of Make Poverty History. Martin’s academic grounding came from the Bradford University School of Peace Studies in the mid-eighties, an experience he valued. He became director of Health Poverty Action in April 2006.
Judging from the daily outpouring of commentary, opinions and reports, you would think that there were two African continents. One of them is the new land of opportunity, with seven of the world's 10 fastest-growing economies, offering limitless possibilities to investors. There is, however, this other image: a starving and hopeless continent, hungry and poor, corrupt and prey to foreign exploiters.
As Africans, we are tired of caricatures. But we are also tired of waiting – waiting to be led towards the one Africa we all want, the Africa that can and should be. We know the real Africa, filled with possibilities, dignity and opportunities, able to face its challenges and solve them from within. Never has the time been more right for us finally to realise our full potential. It is within our grasp.
As a scientist, I am always interested in facts. Africa is a land rich in resources, which has enjoyed some of the highest economic growth rates on the planet. It is home to 200 million people between the ages of 15 and 24 (pdf). And it has seen foreign direct investment treble over the past decade.
As the head of an institution whose business is investing in rural people, I know that you also need vision and imagination. At the International Fund for Agricultural Development we have banked on the poorest, most marginalised people in the world, and over and over again these investments have paid off for people and for societies. And more than half the people we invest in are Africans.
Almost 11 years have passed since the Maputo Declaration, in which you, as African leaders, committed yourselves to allocating at least 10% of national budgets to agriculture and rural development – key sectors in the drive to cut poverty, build inclusive growth and strengthen food security and nutrition.
Today, just seven countries have fulfilled the Maputo commitment consistently (pdf), while some others have made steps in the right direction. Eleven years is a long time to wait. I have seen projects turn desert into farmland in less time.
In just a few days, in Malabo at the 23rd African Union summit, I will join those of you, African leaders, who will gather to discuss this year's topics - agriculture and food security. This is my call: don't just promise development – deliver it; make it happen now. Make real, concrete progress towards investment that reaches all Africans, investments that prioritise rural people.
Our biggest resource is our people. To squander this is worse than wasteful. If we don't act now, by 2030 Africa will account for 80% of the world's poor (pdf). Is this the legacy that we want to leave for future generations?
The AU declared 2014 to be the year of agriculture and food security. And this is the year we look beyond the deadline of the millennium development goals to a post-2015 world with new goals and targets to reach. I hope this means that we will be dedicating ourselves fully to making agriculture a priority. GDP growth due to agriculture has been estimated (pdf) to be five times more effective in reducing poverty than growth in any other sector, and in sub-Saharan Africa, up to 11 times. Paradoxically, it is countries that lack lucrative extractive industries, and which have had to invest in agriculture, that have found out what is now an open secret: agriculture not only improves food security but also creates wealth. Small family farmers in some parts of our continent contribute as much as 80% of food production (pdf). Investing in poor rural people is both good economics and good ethics.
A full 60% of our people depend wholly or partly on agriculture for their livelihoods (pdf), and the vast majority of them live below the poverty line. It's not pity and handouts that they need. It's access to markets and finance, land tenure security, knowledge and technology, and policies that favour small farms and make it easier for them to do business. A thriving small farm sector helps rural areas to retain the young people who would otherwise be driven to migrate to overcrowded cities, where they face an uncertain future. Investing in agriculture reinforces not only food security, but also security in general.
In an Africa where 20 states are classified as fragile and 28 countries need food assistance, the need for a real rural transformation backed by investment and not just words is critical – I have often said that declarations don't feed people.
Investment must be focused on small family farms. Such smallholdings make up 80% of all farms in sub-Saharan Africa. And, contrary to conventional wisdom, small farms are often more productive than large ones. For example, China's 200 million small farms cover only 10% of the world's agricultural land but produce 20% of the world's food (pdf). The average African farm, however, is performing at only about 40% of its potential. Simple technologies – such as improved seeds, irrigation and fertiliser – could treble productivity, triggering transformational growth in the agricultural sector. It is estimated that irrigation alone could increase output by up to 50% in Africa (pdf). Rural areas also need the right kinds of investment in infrastructure – roads, energy, storage facilities, social and financial services – and enabling policies backed by appropriate governance structures that ensure inclusiveness.
If we look at the countries that have met the Maputo commitment, we see that investing in agriculture works. Given that agriculture has become lucrative for private investors, and that about 60% of the planet's available uncultivated agricultural land is in Africa (pdf), there is no mystery about why we hear of so-called "land grabs". Opportunity draws foreign investors. There is nothing wrong with foreign investment. But it has to be managed, for the benefit of all.
What is a mystery is why, with such a vast potential and a young population just waiting for a reason to seize it, our African leaders do not announce that they will redouble their efforts to drive an inclusive rural transformation, with concrete commitments, that will make Maputo a reality. I hope that, after the Malabo meeting, that will be a mystery no longer.
African economies have grown impressively. But it is time to stop focusing on GDP figures and instead focus on people. The majority of our people are engaged in agriculture, and the neglect of that sector must stop if we really want to realise the healthy, peaceful and food-secure Africa that we know can be. It is not a dream: it is a responsibility.
Kanayo F Nwanze is the president of the United Nations rural development agency, the International Fund for Agricultural Development
Foreign investors pouring money into Africa are increasingly turning away from commodities-led projects to tap into the growing consumer market, while smaller, less-established countries are also getting a bigger lion's share.
In its annual report on Africa released this week, EY revealed the continent became the world's second-most attractive investment destination in 2013, just behind North America. In addition, Africa's share of global foreign direct investment (FDI) reached its highest level in a decade, at 5.7 percent, while capital investments grew by 12.9 percent in the same period.
But 2013 also saw some major shifts in investment trends on the continent. Mining and metals, for instance, are no longer the main beneficiaries of FDI and the list of the top 10 countries in FDI projects showed some surprising trends.
While EY noted a "dramatic improvement" in perceptions of Africa over the last four years, the usual magnets for foreign investment are losing momentum. FDI flows into mining and metals, coal, oil and natural gas have become less prominent, according to EY, with their share of overall FDI projects at the lowest-ever level in 2013.
Instead, investors are turning to service- and consumer-related industries. The top three sectors – technology, media and telecommunications, retail and consumer products (RCP) and financial services – accounted for more than 50 percent of total FDI projects last year.
The expanding but still underpenetrated consumer market and the improving communication infrastructure boosted investments in RCP, which accounted for 17.5 percent of FDI projects last year.
Claire Schaffnit-Chatterjee, a senior analyst at Deutsche Bank, said that although the African consumer market was largely still for basic goods and services, this was changing as citizens became richer. "More than half of African households are forecast to have discretionary income by 2020," she told CNBC by phone.
Razia Khan, regional head of research for Africa at Standard Chartered, named Nigeria as one country which was likely to see increasingly diversified FDI flows, despite concerns about political instability and terrorism activities, such as the recent kidnapping of nearly 300 schoolgirls.
Nigeria recently overtook South Africa to become the continent's fastest-growing economy. Khan added that Nigeria's high birth rate would also boost consumer demand. "Already there are more Nigerian babies born every year than there are in the whole of Europe," she told CNBC by phone.
Watch out for…Zambia
However, for Africa's less well-established countries, the story may still be about commodities. "For small economies, the stuff that will really move the dial is resources," Khan said. She highlighted Ghana, Mozambique, Uganda and Zambia as "resource stories".
Zambia and Uganda both made their first appearances in 2013 on EY's top-10 list of most popular destinations for foreign investment, ranked by number of FDI projects.
Zambia is the world's third-largest copper producer and output is expected to double by 2020. The country is also rich in other natural resources, with fertile lands and hydro power, and is considered politically stable.
The Zambian government is also taking steps to develop various sectors beyond the mining industry, by setting up a sovereign wealth fund and boosting investment in infrastructure to develop tourism and agricultural industries.
As for Uganda, investors are attracted by the solid economic growth record, rapid population expansion and currently low per capita consumption. Uganda has also discovered oil, and is on track to become an oil producer by 2017, according to Khan.
Ghana and Mozambique moved up EY's ranks for FDI projects to occupy fourth and seventh place in 2013. Like Uganda, both have been boosted by recent energy discoveries – oil for Ghana , coal and gas for Mozambique – and the accompanying boom in infrastructure development.
Between 2014 and 2018, Mozambique's economy is seen expanding by 8 percent per year on average. "Mozambique has very strong growth prospects," Schaffnit-Chatterjee told CNBC.
Alice Tidey @AliceTidey
In 2005, Binyavanga Wainaina published a brilliantly sarcastic essay in Granta called "How to Write About Africa," advising people on how to sound spiritual and compassionate while writing a book about the continent.
"Always use the word 'Africa' or 'Darkness' or 'Safari' in your title," Wainaina advised. "Never have a picture of a well-adjusted African on the cover of your book, or in it, unless that African has won the Nobel Prize. An AK-47, prominent ribs, naked breasts: use these. If you must include an African, make sure you get one in Masai or Zulu or Dogon dress."
Wainaina had other tips: The people in said book should be depicted as hungry, suffering, simple or dead. The children should have distended bellies and flies on their faces. The animals should be depicted as wise and filled with family values.
Elephants are caring and good feminists. So are gorillas. Be sure to show how profoundly you are moved by the continent and its woes, and how much it has penetrated your soul. End with a quote from Nelson Mandela involving rainbows.
There's been something similarly distorted to some of the social media reactions to the Boko Haram atrocities. It's great that the kidnappings and the massacres finally are arousing the world's indignation. But sometimes the implication of the conversation has been this: Africa is this dark and lawless place where monstrous things are bound to happen. Those poor people need our help.
But this is more or less the opposite of the truth. Boko Haram is not the main story in Africa or even in Nigeria. It is a small rear-guard reaction to the main story. The main story in Africa is an impressive surge of growth, urbanization and modernization, which has sparked panic in a few people who don't like these things.
Many countries in sub-Saharan Africa are growing at a phenomenal clip. Nigeria's economy grew by 6.7% in 2012. Mozambique's grew by 7.4%, Ghana's by 7.9%. Economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa as a whole is predicted to reach 5.2% this year. Investment funds are starting up by the dozen, finding local entrepreneurs.
In 2011, roughly 60 million African households earned at least $3,000 a year. By next year, more than 100 million households will make that much. Trade between Africa and the rest of the world has increased by 200% since 2000. Since 1996, the poverty rate has fallen by 1% per year. Life expectancies are shooting up.
Africa should not be seen as merely the basket case continent where students, mission trips and celebrities can go to do good work. It has become the test case of 21st-century modernity. It is the place where the pace of modernization is fast, and where the forces that resist modernization are mounting a daring reaction.
We are seeing three distinct clashes. They're happening all over the world, but they exist in bold contrast in Africa.
The first is the clash over pluralism. Africa has seen an explosion of cellphone usage. It's seen a rapid expansion of urbanization. In 1980, only 28% of Africans lived in cities, but today 40% do. This has led to a greater mixing of tribal groupings, religions and a loosening of lifestyle options. The anti-gay laws in Nigeria, Uganda, Burundi and many other countries are one reaction against this cosmopolitan trend.
The second is a clash over human development. Over the past decade, secondary school enrollment in Africa has increased by 50%. This contributes to an increasing value on intellectual openness, as people seek liberty to furnish their own minds. The Boko Haram terrorists are massacring and kidnapping people — mostly girls — at schools to try to force people to submit to a fantasy version of the past.
The third is the clash over governance. Roughly 80% of Africa's workers labor in the informal sector. That's because the formal governmental and regulatory structures are biased toward the connected and the rich, not based on impersonal rule of law. Many Africans are trying to replace old practices with competent governance.
Too many of our images of Africa are derived from nature documentaries, fundraising appeals and mission trips. In reality, Africa faces in acute forms the same problems that afflict pretty much every region these days. Most important: Individual and social creativity is zooming ahead, and governing institutions are failing to perform the basic, elementary tasks.
David Brooks is a neo- conservative columnist for The New York Times.
The best untold story of the last decade may be the story of Africa. 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.
This is a moment of great opportunity for Africans. It is also a moment of decision.
The choices that Africans and their leaders make will determine whether a decade of progress leads to an era of African prosperity and stability — or whether Africa falls back into the cycle of violence and weak governance that held back the promise of the continent for far too long.
The challenges are real. Bitter and bloody conflicts are embroiling South Sudan, the Central African Republic and Congo. Corruption remains rampant; the African Union reports that $148 billion is wasted through corrupt practices each year. Africa needs strong leaders and strong institutions to stand up for human rights, address discrimination against women and minorities, and remove restrictions on freedom of expression.
The United States and African nations have deep historic and economic ties. The U.S. government has invested billions of dollars in health care, leading to real progress in combating AIDS and malaria. Our security forces work with their African counterparts to fight extremism. U.S. companies are investing in Africa through trade preferences under the African Growth and Opportunity Act. As a friend, the United States has a role to play in helping Africans build a better future.
Many of the choices are crystal clear. African leaders need to set aside sectarian and religious differences in favor of inclusiveness, acknowledge and advocate for the rights of women and minorities, and they must accept that sexual orientation is a private matter. They must also build on their economic progress by eliminating graft and opening markets to free trade.
The conflict and crises that have held Africa back for too long were evident Friday when I flew into Juba, the capital of South Sudan. I remember arriving in Juba in January 2011 when the people of South Sudan voted overwhelmingly for independence. Even in that moment of jubilation, the threat of ethnic violence loomed just over the horizon.
The violence turned tragically real in December when fighting broke out between forces loyal to the government and militias aligned with a rebel leader. Today we see the echoes of too many earlier conflicts: thousands of innocent people killed, both sides recruiting child soldiers and a country on the cusp of famine.
Led by the U.S. special envoy to South Sudan, Donald Booth, the United States and our partners in Africa have been trying to mediate the conflict. On Friday, when I met with President Salva Kiir, I reminded him of our conversations about his nation’s promise. I urged him to set aside old grudges and reach a settlement with the opposition before that promise is soaked in more blood.
Resolutions of age-old grievances are difficult, but they are possible. For two decades, Africa’s Great Lakes region has endured a crisis as militants and gangs have fought over mineral wealth and ethnic differences. In recent weeks, Angola has demonstrated remarkable leadership in working with other African countries and the State Department’s special envoy to the Great Lakes region, Russ Feingold, to promote a framework for peace. There is a long way to go, but the progress is real and it represents hope for the region and the continent.
Our role in Africa goes beyond security assistance. We are working to develop the prosperity that is critical to a better future. One aspect of that effort is Power Africa, a public-private partnership conceived by President Obama to pump billions of dollars into the continent’s energy sector and double the number of people with access to electricity.
And we are engaging the promise of a new generation of leaders across Africa. This summer, 500 Africans will come to the United States for the Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders. The fellowship is part of President Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative, providing training, resources and platforms to support leadership development, promote entrepreneurship and connect leaders with one another and the United States. In August, the president will host the first summit between African and U.S. leaders.
Africa can be a beacon for the world: Dramatic transformations are possible, prosperity can replace poverty, cooperation can triumph over conflict. This is tough work, and it requires sober commitment, regional cooperation and a clear vision of a better future. The goal of a prosperous, healthy and stable continent is within reach if Africans and their leaders make the right decisions.
John F. Kerry, a former United States Senator is secretary of state for U.S.
Africa must deliver Europe from its darkness – Otabil
Motivational Speaker and Preacher, Dr Mensa Otabil says it is time for Africa - "the centre of Christianity" in the world - to rescue Europe from its “darkness.”
The International Central Gospel Church general overseer says despite the fact that Africa received the Christian gospel from European missionaries hundreds of years ago, the West has now sunk into darkness and needs Africa to show it the light.
Dr Otabil told his congregation in Church on Sunday that Africa has become the fulcrum of Christianity in the world and must now rescue her Christian benefactor.
“Hundreds of years ago, the gospel came to us from Europe; great missionaries came, laboured here, some of them died. Some of them took 20 years, 30 years to have their first converts. So many were killed just by malaria and new missionaries came. Eventually the gospel took roots in Africa; in Ghana, Nigeria and the rest of Africa and now, the Church is growing fast in Africa than the rest of the world.
“The centre of Christianity is no longer Europe, it’s Africa, and Europe is now the ‘dark’ Continent of Europe. They need the gospel. But whose gonna give them the gospel? Those they gave the gospel to 200 years ago. We took the seed. We have produced the seed. Now we have to take the seed back to the people who came to sow the seed to us,” Pastor Otabil said.
Source: Ghana Web
Economic growth projections are a tricky business, often requiring forecasters to revisit and change their projections. Nonetheless they provide us with a window into the future. A new report from the World Bank projects Sub-Saharan Africa to grow at 5.3 in 2014, up from 4.7 in the past year.
Compared to other regional blocs, projected growth in Sub-Saharan Africa ranks third, after East Asia at 7.2 and South Asia at 5.7. The paradox of the past several years of impressive economic growth in Africa is that it has been accompanied by little in job creation, and this trend is set to continue.
Many reports have documented the extent to which economic growth has failed to translate into real development in Africa. Weak job growth has remained stubbornly high during the past decade of sustained economic growth. The International Labour Organization classifies 82 percent of African workers as poor, because they are stuck into the informal sector of self-employment and have no good wage-paying jobs. A new United Nations report on Global Economic Outlook warns of the danger of this paradox which is an issue in many countries around the world, albeit, at differing degrees and for different reasons. Last May, the African Development Bank warned governments of "political instability" due to soaring youth unemployment. Around 12 million young people join the labor force each year in Africa and so far, only one fifth get jobs. Reason why every month or so, we watch in horror desperate young people drowning in the Mediterranean trying to cross to Europe for greener pastures. The Arab spring, which toppled governments in Tunisia, Libya and Egypt, was a reaction to disturbingly high unemployment among young people.
Poverty rate is not declining as fast as it should and those in extreme poverty, around half of Africa's population, can't find food nor quality education in news headlines of 'impressive economic growth'. Extreme poverty declined from 52 percent in 1981 to 48 percent in 2010, according to World Bank estimates, a mere 4 percent in 29 years. That is as slow as it can get in the 21st century of ubiquitous technology which, if harnessed, propels countries, as it did with those in Asia, to leapfrogging.
So why is Africa's job growth so weak while its economic growth outlook is just fine, even robust? The reasons are structural in nature and three-fold.
First, much of that 'robust' economic growth in the past decade in Africa has been driven by export of commodities or natural resources. McKinsey and Company estimates this resource boom to be responsible for 32 percent of Africa's GDP. The problem with commodity-driven growth is that it is not labor-intensive, but rather capital-intensive. Wealth from wells and the ground -- which then travels to far-flung places in pipelines -- tend to bypass people. In addition, let's remember that economic development springs from adding value to resources, not merely exporting them crude. This is why Angola's economy grew at 11.1 percent for the decade of 2001-2010, the fastest on earth, much of it from oil exports, while 60 percent of Angolans live under extreme poverty. Countries need to make deliberate choices to facilitate growth in key labor-intensive industries.
Second, while Africa needs investments in sectors such as infrastructure, technology and education, much of its finances keep leaking out to the rest of the world. In May 2013, a joint study by the African Development Bank and the Global Financial Integrity showed that from 1980-2009 Africa lost $1.2 to 1.4 trillion in illicit financial outflows -- in corruption, tax evasion and bribes. This amount is more than three times the total amount of foreign aid received in the same period and twenty-eight times higher than the annual foreign direct investments to Africa which, according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, was at 50 billion in 2012. If this trend was reversed, Africa would be able to solve all of its economic woes with no outside assistance. Were it to be reversed even by 1 percent, well, the African Union headquarters wouldn't be a donation from China.
Third, there is no industrialization, not even in agricultural production, taking place when it should. It is getting expensive to manufacture products in Asia because of growing labor costs there and this presents unprecedented opportunities for Africa to venture into the manufacturing sector, a labor-intensive industry which could potentially solve the persistent and pervasive problem of joblessness. Last October, the African Development Bank declared, rightly so, that "Industrialization is a precondition for Africa's economic transformation." Manufacturing contributes less than 10 percent to Africa's GDP and employs even less of that percentage, an unhealthy structure for many resource-rich countries. Agriculture share in GDP is just 12 percent, according to OECD estimates, while it employs over 60 percent. What this shows is that wealth in Africa is not where people are. That is the paradox of Africa's 'impressive' economic growth, and a continuing sluggish job market.
Tackling this complex issue will take time, years or even decades, but first policymakers need understand its root causes and the limits of committing to create a 'certain number' of jobs by the government every year as a response to the crisis. Though such a response might be helpful, the real causes are structural in nature and must be tackled as such.
Obadias Ndaba is a commentor and columnist specialty on Congo and African affairs. His works have appeared in The Voice of America, The National Review, The African Executive, The African Liberty and The Africa Review, The Standard and The New York Times. Ndaba is a native Congo and was up brought in Rwanda, where worked in micro-finance and commercial banking. He is aso the president of World Youth Alliance.