By Alagie Manneh
Gambian Abdoulie Janneh, the executive director of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation and president of the African Governance Institute, has said that there is currently an upbeat mood in Africa that is aptly captured in the slogan ‘Afrique Emergente’ and that many are optimistic for a bright future for the continent.
Speaking at the IDA Forum at the 2018 World Bank-IMF Spring Meetings in Washington, recently, Mr Janneh said the IDA has earmarked 78 billion dollars for eligible countries in Africa and elsewhere for 2018-2020, and that although it covers forty plus countries in Africa, the impact of the World Bank agency’s operations is felt throughout the continent.
The Forum brought together representatives of contributing and borrower countries, World Bank Group staff, and a selection of leading CSOs, faith-based organizations, foundations, and think tanks to enhance dialogue with development partners to work together to help countries implement IDA projects to meet their development goals. The Forum discussed lessons identified from the IDA17 implementation period that the Bank believed could make a difference in addressing some of the world’s most pressing challenges—violent conflict and fragility, access to jobs, and economic empowerment.
Speaking on the theme “Addressing Some of the World’s Most Pressing Challenges-Violent Conflict and Fragility, Access to Jobs, and Economic Empowerment”, Mr Janneh said in the recent past, Africa has had its challenges of creating durable and sustainable peace, but overall, significant progress is being made in meeting this challenge even though some of the countries continue to grapple with issues of political tension, violent conflict, for example Boko Haram in Nigeria, the Sahel Region (notably in Mali), DRC and Burundi.
“We owe these positive trends that we are registering for the following reasons: 1. First there is increase in commitment and political will amongst African Leaders to combat violent conflict.
The AU has put in place a Peace and Security Council and importantly also, in its common development vision “Agenda 2063” there is a commitment for the creation of an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa. An important component of this commitment is the adoption of the programme “Silencing Guns in Africa: Building a Roadmap to a Conflict Free Continent by the year 2020”.
“2. Furthermore at the various country levels, there is increased evidence of the deepening of governance and democratic dispensation. We at the Mo Ibrahim Foundation provide credible data set on the state of governance in Africa on a yearly basis. We produce a comprehensive Index based on the collation and analysis of data on four main pillars of safety and rule of law, participation and human rights, sustainable economic opportunity and human development. Whilst challenges remain, significant progress has been made over the past ten years in numerous African countries with obvious disparities between them. However, there are still roadblocks and challenges to these positive trends.
In this connection, individual African countries must be encouraged: To better manage diversity; strengthen safety and rule of law; to consolidate gains made in the conduct of free and transparent elections as well as promote the institutionalisation of democratic culture particularly avoiding the unconstitutional changes aimed in most cases at prolonging the mandate of incumbent leaders; to pay attention to issues of inclusion of youth, women as well as inequality that is being compounded by corruption; to ensure the transparent and optimal exploitation of the significant natural resources in the continent.”
On the challenge of access to jobs particularly as it concerns youth, Mr Janneh said Africa continues to be a continent of young people, the majority of whom continue to lack access to decent employment. “The statistics are mind boggling and I believe we are faced with a time bomb and a potential source of recruitment for extremists. Efforts must be significantly increased to meet this challenge through the creation of high productivity jobs that depend on skills, science, technology, research and innovation.
“With this in mind, education requires further attention. While primary school enrollment rates have recently skyrocketed, primary school completion rates have not risen in tandem, and girls are vastly more likely to drop out of school than boys. In order to create and adequately fill these high-productivity jobs, efforts must be made to increase the quality and type of education as well as completion rates, whilst gender equity need to be continued and strengthened.
“Importantly also, we must all resolve to support Africa’s industrialisation plans that must be primarily based on value addition to our agricultural products.”