Africa's compelling progress toward peace and prosperity
New statistics confirm that Africans have the capacity to lift themselves out of poverty and stop seemingly endless conflict.
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This is not to say that all is rosy on the African continent. Massive problems still exist. Famines occur in many areas, women are treated appallingly in some areas, and the scourge of HIV/AIDS is ever-present. Moreover, the above statistics can be undermined by, for instance, major inequalities in access for many Africans to economic opportunity, by poor governance, and by uneven distribution of the benefits of development.Skip to next paragraph
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But such problems need not define the continent and, in terms of offering aid and economic assistance, an emphasis on the positives should be encouraged – for it is here that solutions and future directions will be found.
The facts confirm that Africans have the capacity to lift themselves out of poverty and to stop seemingly endless conflict. In 2006, a Gallup International survey that Africans, ahead of those from any other continent, were the most optimistic people. These are the tools of success and of peace.
To provide support for these initiatives, governments and non-government organisations must incorporate peace building in all assistance programs to Africa, while governments, private funders, and universities should increase funding for peace studies within an African context.
Governments must, at a minimum, meet the agreed levels of overseas development assistance for Africa, and they should improve their national accounting practices so they can quantify the effects and economic impacts of peace.
The multinational private sector, meanwhile, should develop better, more sustainable relationships with African governments they are working with to improve peacefulness in key markets.
Finally, both governments and the private sector in rich countries should work together to reduce or abolish agricultural subsidies to allow free and fair trade opportunities for the African economies.
In doing this, donors in rich countries can feel confident that they are building programs on the basis of the facts in Africa and are best serving the needs of the majority of Africans. As such, long after the vuvuzelas have mercifully fallen silent, a trumpet may still be heard for those in Africa who are together driving peace and prosperity, united in their willingness to grow social, political, and economic security in their continent.
Steve Killelea is founder and chair of the Institute for Economics and Peace, which released its annual survey of world peace, the Global Peace Index, on June 8.
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