In the last twenty years Africa has made significant progress toward peace, security and economic development, despite some unstable zones such as South Sudan, Central Africa and the Great Lakes region.
Africa’s progress is remarkable as has been shown by the level of growth and economic development in different sectors, for instance banking, telecommunications, energy and power, mining, agriculture, tourism and the development of infrastructure. It has been driven by greater political stability and by economic reforms which have facilitated booming private sector investment.
In 2013, the African Development Bank reported that Africa’s countries had GDP growth rates of more than 6%; the collective GDP of Africa had grown to $963 and the number of middle income countries had risen to 26 out 58, led by Angola, Nigeria, Ghana, Morocco, South Africa and many more.
The rise of Africa is indisputable, in spite of multiple challenges like climate change, poverty and inequality, poor infrastructure, wrong governance and Islamist militancy. These have reversed the gains of several countries, but Africa is growing as a whole.
Also, in the last fifteen years we have seen the emergence of a new middle class in Africa, a new class of business owners, with higher incomes and higher purchasing power. This has resulted in the attraction of many investors to Africa and has indirectly contributed to job creation for a great number of people, at the same time giving opportunities to the long-term unemployed to escape poverty.
It is important today not to see Africa from a negative perspective or as a problematic continent commonly ravaged by conflict and war, or with high infant mortality, poverty, HIV Aids or Ebola. Rather, we need to look at the increasing changes and the global role of Africa and its Diasporas. Today, Africa is the last frontier, the land with unlimited possibilities.
According Tom Stevenson (2012) “Africa is home to the world’s fastest-growing population; there are already 500 million mobile phones in Africa, with 850 million expected by 2015; Africa’s workforce is expected to be the world’s largest by 2035, bigger than both China’s and India’s; consumer spending is growing in Africa from around $900bn today to an anticipated $1.4 trillion by 2020.”
Africa is the land of opportunities with a growing market in food, or food processing, in retail and clothing, technology, mobile and telecommunications, entertainment, financial services, healthcare, construction, infrastructure development, agriculture, education and IT.
On the other side, we have the African Diasporas which constitute an asset for both their hosts and their countries of origin as most of them excel in their specialised fields. They are successful entrepreneurs, businessmen, professionals, scientists and clergy. The Diaspora constitutes an important element in the social and economic development of their host countries. They are major contributors to their countries of origin by their remittances.
According to Professor Bodomo, in 2010 the African Diaspora remitted $51.8bn (£34bn) to the continent and in the same year the World Bank estimates ODA to Africa reached $43bn (£28bn), which means that Diaspora remittance was far above the Aid given that same year.
It is undeniable that the African Diaspora has the potential, the capital, the knowledge and the skills required to be transferred to the continent; they know how to mobilise FDI, they have absorbed the business practice of two regions, and many more abilities to help and share in the development of Africa and their adoptive countries.
It for this reason that the British Award for Africa Development has been set up, to recognise personalities from various industries and sectors for their outstanding achievements. Whether it is through their work in the African communities in the UK or for their involvement in improving the quality of life for disadvantaged communities in Africa, we want to champion these individuals.
So, by putting in place this initiative we believe that the Braad Award will encourage emulation of good practice in business, enterprise, leadership or governance, and will also promote good practice in UK as in Africa.