Africa Progress Panel Report: The Africa Progress Panel Report Analyses All Aspects of Africa's Political, Economic and Social Structures. the Article Which Follows Is a Brief Review of Some of the Points Raised by the Report and Germane to Africa's Transformative Imperative
Versi, Anver, African Business
The Africa Progress Panel, comprising eminent personalities and chaired by Kofi Annan, "draws on the expertise of a wide range of institutions and actors to compile a concise overview of the progress Africa has made over the previous year." The report highlights progress as well as the main obstacles to it in seven areas: economic growth, governance, peace and security, social development, food and nutrition security, climate change, and development cooperation and finance. The report finally provides a series of practical recommendations for policy makers to accelerate much-needed progress.
The report begins by saying that the last year has been particularly eventful for the continent, and the world as a whole. "The lingering repercussions of the global financial crisis, accelerating shifts in the balance of economic and political power, high food and fuel prices, and political change in North Africa have transformed the policy space in which African leaders and their partners operate," the report states. These dynamics are transforming prospects for ordinary Africans across the continent.
The events of the last year have also altered how Africa is perceived and how it perceives itself. "As a result," the report states, "countries and companies are increasingly shifting their attention from Africa's problems to its vast potential and abundant opportunities. In the process, they are redefining the continent's image."
The image Africans have of themselves has also been changing. There is a remarkable 'can-do' spirit which has been boosted by South Africa staging a very successful World Cup, a peaceful referendum in Sudan and the people's revolutions in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya.
"What was termed 'the hopeless continent' 10 years ago," says the report, "has now unquestionably become the continent of hope."
The hope is that strong growth rates will translate into jobs, incomes and irreversible human-development gains; that the continent's enormous wealth will be used to generate opportunities for all and that "rulers who abuse their power to enrich themselves at the expense of the poor and of democratic processes are, at last, seeing the writing on the wall."
However, the report warns that positive trends are being negated in too many countries by governance deficits. "Violence, political turmoil, and uncertainty still scar too many parts of the continent and add to the challenges already at hand."
Africa, the report adds, is still heavily marginalised in world affairs, with little say in, and control over, how decisions affecting its countries are taken. With South Africa now in the BRICS club, the expectation is that Africa's voice will be heard more often and more clearly.
"Given these obstacles and challenges, it is all the more remarkable that some countries in Africa have shown such solid progress towards sustainable growth and development," says the report. "They offer clear proof that, with the right combination of leadership, focused development plans, and international support, enormous advances are possible in even the most difficult circumstances."
The theme of this year's report is how partnerships - bilateral, multilateral, with organisations, NGOs and individuals - carry transformative powers.
For example, it says, "Collaboration between the private sector and international philanthropists has led to significant reductions in malaria deaths. Partnerships between mobile-phone providers and governments have resulted in greater access to credit in rural areas and transformed business across entire regions.
The authors of the report make it clear that the situation is not private sector versus the government, as the neo-liberals like to see it, but a partnership between the two. This has been the formula for success for most Asian and Latin American countries.
"The private sector" it says, "understands that it needs the access and knowledge of local partners and national governments to grasp the enormous commercial opportunities at the bottom of the pyramid. …