Just a decade or so ago, The Economist called it "The Hopeless Continent". It damned Sierra Leone as an exemplar for the continent's fortunes, writing in their own good style:
"Sierra Leone manifests all the continent's worst characteristics. It is an extreme, but not untypical, example of a state with all the epiphenomena and none of the institutions of government. It has poverty and disease in abundance, and riches too: its diamonds sustain the rebels who terrorise the place. It is unusual only in its brutality: rape, cannibalism and amputation have been common, with children often among the victims ... In itself, Sierra Leone is of no great importance. If it makes any demands on the world's attention, beyond the simple one of sympathy for its people, it is as a symbol for Africa."
By 2012, its peace enshrined, the IMF had estimated that with GDP growth of 35%, Sierra Leone had the fastest growing economy in the world. And now an analysis by The Economist reveals that over the 10 years to 2010, six of the world's fastest-growing economies were in sub-Saharan Africa. On IMF forecasts, Africa will grab seven of the top 10 places over the next five years (Ethiopia, Mozambique, Tanzania, Congo, Ghana, Zambia and Nigeria). Libya will also return to being a powerhouse in Africa, as stability returns to the region. Over the past decade the simple unweighted average of countries' growth rates was virtually identical in Africa and Asia. Over the next five years Africa is likely to take the lead. In other words, the average African economy will outpace its Asian counterpart.
Undeniably, not every country in Africa is at peace. There are still open wounds lingering, particularly in the former Francophone colonies that still need to be healed, have absolute freedom of destiny returned and their coffers replenished. Some of our children are still hungry, some of our people sick and dying without care. Such ills must be cured.
But I see a hope everywhere. Hope that is growing stronger. The four horsemen of apocalyptical prediction are in retreat. And a promise is being fulfilled that this cradle of humanity is stepping from the yoke of servitude, neglect and abuse to take its place alongside all others as mankind's first-born.
It is fitting, therefore, that this month marks the 50th anniversary of the formation of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU). And its successor, the African Union (AU), has launched year-long Golden Jubilee celebrations under the theme Pan-Aficanism and the African Renaissance to honour an organisation that was set up to promote unity and solidarity among African countries and to act as a collective voice in the fight against colonialism and apartheid, as well as build economic growth.
But post-liberation, the OAU blew with the weather of Africa; a victim of cronyism and corruption, humbled and manipulated by external powers. Its successor, the AU, is now under a new chairperson, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the first woman to lead the AU Commission in the AU's 10-year history. Under her, and moving forward from 2013 onwards, I believe it is Africa's opportunity to bask and develop in the sunshine of the current surge of optimistic hope and growth, which many are calling Africa's rebirth.
Also this year, it is the 50th anniversary of the 4 August 1963 accord of the founding nations that formed the African Development Bank (AfDB). And in a stunning initiative, led by Donald Kaberuka, its president, the 52 nations of the African Union and Morocco will be asked to find a common economic will for the good of all and pledge 5% of their foreign reserves which are presently supporting Western economies and instead use them to bolster a $22bn finance facility to propel Africa into the 21st century and beyond.
This facility will be of a size capable of ensuring that the infrastructure projects--roads, railways, ports, clean water, abundant electricity and wireless connectivity--necessary for the renaissance of Africa occur. …