The 2012 Africa Progress Report, 'Jobs, Justice and Equity: Seizing opportunities in times of global change', frames a new narrative on Africa, which balances the extreme pessimism surrounding Africa a decade ago against the current wave of blinkered optimism.
At the launch of the report last week at the World Economic Forum in Addis, Africa Progress Panel Chair, Kofi Annan, acknowledged both sides of this balance sheet in introducing the new report. Mr. Annan noted that Africa is making remarkable progress on growth, human development, and democracy. Innovation, creativity and energy are sweeping though the continent, he added. However, Mr. Annan also stressed, "We cannot talk of growth when millions of people are left behind. We need equal opportunities for everyone in our population".
Panel members launching the report with Kofi Annan included Peter Eigen, Bob Geldof, Olusegun Obasanjo and Tidjane Thiam.
The call for Jobs, Justice and Equity in the 2012 report has resounded widely among African leadership, institutions and the private sector. "We should not confuse economic growth with economic transformation," cautioned President of the African Development Bank, Donald Kaberuka at the WEF opening plenary in Addis on 10 May, 2012.
Among those joining the APP event were Mr. Jean Ping, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Mr. Abdoulaye Janneh, outgoing Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa, Ms. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Coordinating Minister for the Nigerian Economy, Mr. Strive Masiyiwa of ECONET Wireless, and Mr. Aliko Dangote of Nigeria, a leading entrepreneur.
The overwhelming interest in the Africa Progress Report 2012 by African policy makers, international development partners and the global media should come as no surprise, given the timeliness and relevance of the themes in the report, including the call for a focus on equitable growth, smallholder farming and the need to reduce land grabs across the continent, meeting the MDG targets and setting MDG equity goals, and improving leadership and governance in the public and private sector globally.
The 2012 Report's call to place smallholder farmers and agriculture productivity at the centre of national food security and nutrition was underscored by UNDP's first ever Human Development Report for Africa, titled "Towards a Food Secure Future", and unveiled three days after the APR launch. Since then, the G8 has announced new commitments for sustainable agriculture investments in Africa through the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition initiative. The initiative includes previous commitments made under the l'Aquila agreement. However, it remains to be seen how additional resources will be mobilised and the APP calls for greater transparency in such commitments. The APP will be following this process through an on-going global dialogue on the themes raised in 2012 APR.
The report's key message that ethically indefensible and economically unsustainable inequalities slow down Africa's development progress and create political destabilisation, has been picked up widely by a range of media outlets including the Guardian UK, the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times, This is Africa, the Mail and Guardian and the Oxfam blog from Poverty to Power , among others.
Full coverage of the 2012 APR launch, the report itself and related documents can be viewed on the APP website at http://www.africaprogresspanel.org/. Follow discussion of the report on Twitter, #apr2012 and on the APP Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/africaprogresspanel.
Caroline Kende-Robb is the Executive Director of the Africa Progress Panel, a group of distinguished individuals, chaired by Kofi Annan, dedicated to encouraging progress in Africa.