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487 CHAPTER 27 Making a Case for the Utilisation of African Diaspora in Promoting Economic Development of the Continent Almaz Negash INTRODUCTION With almost one billion people and vast natural resources, Africa has tremendous opportunity to enhance its social, political, and economic development . Regrettably, these opportunities come with enormous challenges. Africa is the second largest continent and holds some of the world’s most valuable resources, yet Africa is responsible for only 2% of global trade1 and sub-Saharan Africa remains the most poverty stricken developing region in the world; over half the population lives below the international poverty line of $1.25 per day.2 Recent events have not helped sub-Saharan Africa’s development. The global recession resulted in a significant decrease in global trade and Africa’s commodity exports have significantly shrunk. This has slowed down economic growth in the continent, reduced government and household incomes, increased unemployment, and decreased remittances.3 In 2009, South Africa went into recession after nearly twenty years of economic growth.4 Additionally, there are numerous ongoing conflicts in Africa including the East Africa food crisis, Nigeria oil crisis, Cote d’Ivoire civil war, and Ethiopia and Eritrea’s ongoing border disputes. Africa continues to face many other challenges. Much of the continent is in need of basic infrastructure, lacks government stability, and suffers from extreme poverty resulting in a lack of access to education, healthcare, and clean water among others. As a major source of many of the world’s commodity exports, Africa lacks the technology, logistics, and expertise to get its products to international markets in the most productive and efficient manner possible. It also lacks policies that promote women’s economic equality. According to the UNDP Human Development Report, women in Africa represent 52% of the total population, contribute approximately 75% of the agricultural work, and produce 60 to 80% of the food. Yet women 488 CHAPTER 27 earn only 10% of African incomes and own just 1% of the continent’s assets .5 These numbers indicate that Africa’s women an enormous resource for achieving economic development yet still face tremendous barriers on the path to achieving gender equality. Despite these challenges, the opportunities for a fruitful Africa are there. Progress requires targeted and strategic investment in human capital . These challenges, however, are about far more than providing funding. They cannot be met by any one government or entity, or even by dealing with one issue at a time. These issues are systemic and intertwined with societal, institutional, geographic, and global economic forces that require equally systemic responses. Utilising the knowledge and resources of members of the African Diaspora can be an important step in combating these challenges and advancing the opportunities. AFRICA’S EMERGING ECONOMIES Despite the global recession, many countries in sub-Saharan Africa have been showing signs of economic progress and in the coming years are expected to grow at a rate faster than all other regions except developing Asia.6 According to The World Economic Forum, ‘Africa is on the brink of a major transformation…and the outlook for the region remains bright at a time when the rest of the world is facing major political and economic challenges .’7 Similarly, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) reported that ‘growth has remained strong in the region in recent years, and most lowincome countries in Africa weathered the global economic slowdown well.’8 Over the past decade, six of the world’s ten fastest growing countries have been in Africa (see Table 1) and the IMF projects that the growth rate of sub-Sahara African economies will increase to nearly 6% in 2012.9 In addition, Table 2 shows impressive projections for Africa’s future growth potential over the next decade.10 According to the IMF, in 2010, GDP in subSaharan Africa is estimated to have increased by 4.7%, up from 1.7% in 2009.11 The trajectory for Africa’s economic growth is overwhelmingly positive and clearly demonstrates that the continent of Africa is an important emerging economy. While Africa is home to increasingly important emerging economies, each of these articles discussing Africa’s potential includes follow up comments and warnings for the need for African economic and social policy reform. While such challenges require a massive amount of collective innovation from governmental and business sectors, sustainable solutions can be better achieved through active participation from the African Diaspora. Utilising the knowledge and resources of the Diaspora can offer African...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780798304054
Related ISBN
9780798303873
MARC Record
OCLC
870684317
Pages
564
Launched on MUSE
2014-02-18
Language
English
Open Access
No
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