Africa sees stability, growth in 2015 despite terror challenge
31 December 2015, 08:02
Nairobi - Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) has witnessed a year of overall stability and growth in 2015 as it embarks on a journey to realize Agenda 2063, a blueprint for the continent's development in the next half century.
OVERALL STABILITY AND GROWTH
During the year, overall political stability has paved the way for economic growth. Some 10 African countries, including Nigeria, Togo and Tanzania, held elections, and unlike before, most of these elections had been conducted in a peaceful and orderly manner without electoral violence.
In South Sudan, the warring factions signed a peace deal in August; and in November, they signed an agreement on transitional security arrangement, an important move to implement permanent ceasefire in the world's youngest nation after it fell into conflict in 2013.
While global economic recovery remains slow, most economies in the SSA region have shown robust growth.
A World Bank report in October says Cote d'Ivoire, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Rwanda and Tanzania are expected to sustain annual growth at around 7 percent or more from 2015 to 2017.
Although economic growth in the region may slow to 3.7 percent this year compared to 4.6 percent in 2014 due to plummeting prices of oil and other commodities, it is projected to pick up to 4.4 percent in 2016, and further strengthen to 4.8 percent in 2017.
A more peaceful and stable Africa has enabled the continent to steadily push forward the integration process.
As part of the first 10-year implementation plan of the Agenda 2063, the African Union launched in June its Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) negotiations. This came just days after the signing of a Tripartite Free Trade Agreement (TFTA), which covers 26 African countries and represents about 60 percent of Africa's GDP and population.
Slated to be implemented in 2017, the CFTA will be built on the TFTA, and create a market of more than 1 billion people. It is expected that the continental wide free-trade area, with a combined GDP of over 2 trillion U.S. dollars, will drastically reduce trade barriers and facilitate free movements of goods, services and people.
In 2015, China and African cooperation ushered in a new era of mutual benefits, with bilateral relations elevated to a historic new height.
This year marks the 15th anniversary of the founding of Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC). In early December, China proposed to lift China-Africa relations to a comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership at the FOCAC summit in Johannesburg, opening a new era of win-win cooperation and common development between the two sides.
To strengthen cooperation with Africa, China announced that it will roll out 10 major plans covering industrialization, agricultural modernization, infrastructure, green development, and people-to-people exchange, etc, in the next three years. And China will also offer 60 billion dollars to ensure smooth implementation of these initiatives.
Terrorism, however, remains a big challenge for parts of Africa as the continent makes its way on the path of prosperity. Terror attacks in some African countries have continued unabated over the past year.
Kenya's Garissa university attack, which killed 148 people in April, has been the deadliest one perpetrated by Somalia's Al-Shabaab militant group in recent years, while latest waves of Boko Haram attacks in Nigeria alone have left hundreds dead.
Moreover, regional militant groups are showing tendency to connect to outside terror groups and change tactics, as evidenced by Boko Haram's swearing of allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL).
Despite the challenge, Africa is unswervingly marching on the path to achieve its Agenda 2063 goals, aiming to empower women, boost industrialization and economic growth and create more education and employment opportunities...
Terrorism is not the whole picture, and terror activities cannot stop the continent's efforts to seek peaceful development.
There is no doubt that as Africa reaches higher levels of stability and economic development, the root causes of terrorism will be eventually tackled.
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