Africa Can Emerge Stronger from the Crisis in Egypt

The call for democratic change in Egypt should be viewed more as an opportunity than a threat. After centuries of suffering repression, apartheid and dictatorial regimes, the winds of change are at last blowing in the right direction through the African continent. The 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa was a harbinger of this change. The Egyptian uprising is a reflection of the revival of African hope, pride and aspiration.

There has recently been a credible and peaceful referendum process in Sudan, which is an exemplary case in point that things are moving in the right direction in Africa. Challenges in establishing lasting peace in Sudan still very much remain, but at least it is clear that the people of Sudan are tired of strife and struggle, and are looking for peaceful resolution of all conflicts. Tunisia is another key example of the African people’s desire for restoration of democracy, stability and prosperity.

The economic growth story of Africa is a reality now that is hard to ignore. It is taking many people by surprise, who could not gauge the resilience of the African people to bounce back from centuries of repression. There is a ring of truth in the optimism reflected in UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks to the Summit of the African Union, in Addis Ababa on 30 January, “Africa is rebounding stronger and faster than anticipated.”

A recent economic analysis conducted by “The Economist” reveals that six of the world’s ten fastest-growing economies are in sub-Saharan Africa. The IMF forecasts that over the next five years, Africa will occupy seven of the top ten places, and the average African economy will outpace its Asian counterpart. It is the world’s fastest-growing market in telecommunications. Poverty levels are on a decline, there is visible success being achieved in the battle against HIV and malaria, and primary education for children is on the rise.

Global sustainable development depends to a great extent on how well Africa develops and manages its abundance of natural resources. The dream of a global green economy can become a reality when pioneering changes in this direction are made in Africa. The continent sits on a vast reservoir of wind, solar and geothermal resources that can support the energy needs of a large part of the world, and not just Africa alone. Any practical, global model of sustainable development in the 21st century cannot be created without having Africa at its center. The 2011 Global Climate Summit is scheduled to be held in Durban, which is a great opportunity to mark the beginning of a new sustainable global economy.

Photo Credit: Florindeii