Wednesday, June 10, 2009
The Huffington Post
Africa's potential is often overlooked. Yet the continent abounds in untapped natural and human resources. The United Nations, for example, estimates that there are over 800 million hectares of unused, cultivable land that could provide the basis for a green revolution in food production -- land which could be used to tackle food shortages in Africa and in other continents.
The remarkable progress that Africa has made in the past decade is also not widely recognized. Across the continent there are numerous success stories. We have seen the spread of free and fair elections, an increase in school enrollment rates and determined efforts to combat malaria. The boom in mobile phones has transformed communication and helped business.
The tragedy is that when millions of Africans believed their countries and continent were finally on the right track, their hopes are being dashed by problems whose roots lie elsewhere. While the global crisis and climate change are creations of the North, it is Africa which is worst affected and least able to cope. The social and political consequences are profound.
Yesterday, the Africa Progress Panel, on which we sit, launched its 2009 State of Africa report in Cape Town. We recognize that the roots of the development crisis often begin outside Africa. But the reality is that the main responsibility for tackling the challenges Africa faces lies with its own leaders.
This does not mean that the rest of the world can walk away. Africa's international partners have a critical part to play in supporting the continent's progress, and share responsibility for tackling imported problems. They also have an interest to do so: social tension and political instability in Africa have clear international costs and consequences.
At a time when other financial flows are dropping, G8 and donor countries have an even greater responsibility to honor their international aid commitments and to ensure that global deals, whether on trade, climate change, intellectual property, illicit drugs, crime or migration, are supportive of Africa's development needs. Aid, effectively used, can leverage other financial flows, strengthen capacities and meet urgent social and humanitarian needs....(Click for remainder.)