Africa’s decision to elect Moussa Faki Mahamat of Chad to the post of AU Chairperson, took the headline news at this January’s AU Heads of State summit in Addis Ababa. While the Chairperson is a symbol of African unity and can drive the next chapter of Africa’s story, the substantive issues underlying regional policymaking are more significant.
It is almost 70 years after US Secretary of State, George Marshall, in a speech at Harvard University called for American assistance in rebuilding the economic infrastructure of Europe. Germany, a recipient of the original Marshall Plan, has unveiled a ‘Marshall Plan with Africa’. The Marshall Plan or European Recovery Programme is credited with restoring Western Europe’s agricultural and industrial productivity after World War II. It involved states in need of assistance joining the Organisation for European Economic Cooperation, outlining the assistance they required and deciding how it was to be divided. The US, in turn, provided economic and technical assistance of almost US$13bn (at the time) for a limited period of four years.
Africa’s urban population is the fastest growing globally. Can this be translated into economic growth and development?
2016 was a year of turmoil for some African countries, while others experienced stability and good economic growth. One reason for the downside phenomenon is the slowdown of China’s economic growth due to its rebalancing of its economy. A second reason, which is linked to the first, is the end of the commodity price super cycle. In Africa, we saw a continuation of several of the trends observed in 2015, such as urbanisation, the growth in the middle class, the continued need for infrastructure development, the prominence of fintech, and political volatility and stability, to name but a few.
Since Barack Obama was elected US President in 2008, Africa has considered him one of its own and has welcomed the various initiatives, like Power Africa, that have been put forward under his administration.