Man everywhere needs Africa - G.E.W. Wolstenholm, Man and Africa, 1965
Just as Africa needs the world, the world needs Africa - Gordon Brown, former UK prime minister, AU Summit, Kampala, July 2010.
With only days before the Rio+20 Summit, Africa and the world may miss a historic opportunity. The emerging key challenges of the Summit are how to ‘green’ the global economy to save the world from converging crises, and to get world leaders to agree on a set of Sustainable Development Goals. But as the Summit draws near there is scepticism about whether it will deliver the necessary breakthroughs. There are calls for more courage and vision. The WWF has warned that the Summit could collapse if ‘countries fail to agree on a draft text for sustainable development goals and definition of key objectives including green economy.’ This critical Summit coincides with the rise of Africa, last frontier for investment and a beacon of hope for sustainable growth.
Africa’s growth story is remarkable in its timing to play a key role in rebalancing the global economy. In 50 years since independence, Africa has experienced hope followed by disillusion, decline, stagnation and finally in the last decade long-awaited growth. By 2008, just before the crash, the ‘forgotten continent’ had become the ‘last frontier for investment’. Africa’s rapid rebound from the Great Recession in 2010 was the first sign of economic independence from the western powers. Two years later, with the rest of the world in turmoil and worse case scenarios never far away, Africa stands out as beacon of hope. With the historic Rio+20 “Earth Summit” approaching fast, Africa as a green field for investment is in a unique position to promote itself as a driver of sustainable growth.