Yesterday, the Brookings Institution brought together a diverse panel of leading experts on Africa to discuss the greatest challenges Africa will face in 2014. The panelists included: Ambassador Robin Renee Sanders, former U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Congo and Nigeria; Makhtar Diop, Vice President for Africa at the World Bank; John Prendergast, Co-Founder of the Enough Project; Amadou Sy, Senior Fellow with the Brookings Institute; and Bright Simons, President of mPedigree Network. The discussion, moderated by a Brookings Senior Fellow, John McArthur, centered on the steps necessary to maintain and advance economic growth and the challenges and strategies to overcoming increased instability and conflict in Africa.
Multiple panelists stressed the need to sustain the economic growth Africa has experienced in the last decade. Mr. Diop, Ambassador Sanders, and Mr. Sy recommended the expansion and diversification of economic investment into the agricultural, energy, and electricity sectors, as well as the development of financial infrastructure in regional banking and auditing. In addition, panelists commented on the role improved vocational and higher education specific to the needs of each country could play in advancing economic and political development. Similarly, Mr. Simmons highlighted the increased role of technology in spurring social, economic, and infrastructure advancements in Africa.
The continued and emerging set of conflict crises facing Africa in 2014 were addressed by the panel. Prendergast warned that international and regional conflict management systems must stop addressing these conflicts in isolation, but rather deal with them as integrated conflict systems. This should involve shifting from piecemeal to comprehensive peace processes, understanding and addressing long-term drivers of conflict in negotiations, and working to cut off the revenue sources of armed groups.
While each of the panelists highlighted signs of progress and hope for Africa’s future, they expressed concern over the role conflict could play in harming civilian populations, stunting growth, and negatively impacting the willingness of foreigners to invest in Africa’s growing economy.
Watch the full discussion here:
Follow the ongoing conversation on Twitter using #ForesightAfrica.
The event followed the release of the Foresight Africa report, a collection of short briefs on the major issues for Africa in 2014.