-Michael Keating is director of the Africa Progress Panel. The opinions expressed are his own.-
After a decade of solid progress Africa is now facing the daunting task - at a time of economic crisis - of maintaining stability, economic growth and employment, addressing food security and combating climate change. No country on the continent is escaping the impact of volatile fuel and commodity prices, the drop in global demand and trade.
The global economic crisis, however, is serving as a wake-up call for both African leaders and their international partners. The Africa Progress Panel’s 2009 report, launched Wednesday in Cape Town by panel members Kofi Annan, Graca Machel and Linah Mohohlo, argues just this.
Africa is rich in potential and there is an, often overlooked, opportunity to be seized. More investment is needed in Africa’s real economy, particularly infrastructure, renewable energy, agriculture and communications. The explosion of mobile telephony and spread of financial services to the poor have shown the potential for innovative development models.
There is also an opportunity to set a low carbon growth and development agenda, investing in the Africa’s vast solar, hydro, wind, thermal and biomass resources. A continental "green growth" strategy might attract the financial and technological support of richer countries, not least as Africa can contribute solutions to the global climate change challenge. Investment in such initiatives will not only generate jobs and boost trade in Africa, but also create markets for the world.