Africa’s profile has never been higher. Events appear to be at last moving in the right direction for the poorest continent. During the past 12 months, the leaders of the G-8 agreed at Gleneagles to double aid to $50 billion by 2010, of which 50 percent would go to Africa. The 25 members of the European Union committed to double aid to $80 billion by 2010, and in September 2005, 15 members of the United Nations agreed to commit to the organization’s 0.7 percent aid/GDP target. The same month there was agreement to cancel $55 billion of debt to 18 countries, 14 of which were in Africa. These commitments were made in the spirit of Tony Blair’s Africa Commission, which went around 10:1 in favor of what the international community should do for Africa.
Even economic trends appear to be moving in the right direction. Continental growth was 5.1 percent in 2004, and is estimated at 5 percent in 2005 and 4.7 percent in 2006, the most favorable performance for many years. Today, 40 percent of African states now have elected democracies, regional co-operation is being enhanced, and governance is part of the agenda.
So far, so good.
But even though the aid and debt relief argument has been won—at least among Western government leaders—this is a two-way bargain. More aid and debt relief is incumbent on improvements in African governance. How should Africa respond, and what is the best way for the continent to promote its own development?