Now for the hard part
In his foreword, Annan warns against a sense of complacency in the current climate of rapid growth. “It cannot be said often enough that overall progress remains too slow and too uneven; that too many Africans remain caught in a downward spiral of poverty, insecurity and marginalisation; that too few people benefit from the continent’s growth trend and rising geo-strategic importance; that too much of Africa’s enormous resource wealth remains in the hands of narrow elites and increasingly, foreign investors without being turned into tangible benefits for its people.”
He states that when assessing nations, the tendency is to focus too much on political stability and economic growth at the expense of social development, rule of law and respect for human rights. He argues that the time is ripe for Africa to rethink its development path. “Not all inequalities are unjust,” he says, “but the levels of inequality across much of Africa are unjustified and profoundly unfair.”
He warns that the extreme disparities in income are slowing the pace of poverty reduction and hampering the development of broad-based economic growth. “Disparities in basic life-chances – for health, education and public participation in society – are preventing millions of Africans from realising their potential, holding back social and economic progress in the process.”
This growing inequality – and the twin problems of marginalisation and disenfranchisement – are threatening the continent’s prospects and undermining the very foundations of its recent success.