News / Africa

Africa Progress Report Blasts Poor Governance

Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo (2nd R) addresses a session alongside Kofi Annan (L), chairman of Alliance for a Green Revolution, Irish rock star Bob Geldof (2nd L) and Peter Eigen, a member of the Africa Progress Panel (APP), during the WorlFormer Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo (2nd R) addresses a session alongside Kofi Annan (L), chairman of Alliance for a Green Revolution, Irish rock star Bob Geldof (2nd L) and Peter Eigen, a member of the Africa Progress Panel (APP), during the Worl
x
Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo (2nd R) addresses a session alongside Kofi Annan (L), chairman of Alliance for a Green Revolution, Irish rock star Bob Geldof (2nd L) and Peter Eigen, a member of the Africa Progress Panel (APP), during the Worl
Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo (2nd R) addresses a session alongside Kofi Annan (L), chairman of Alliance for a Green Revolution, Irish rock star Bob Geldof (2nd L) and Peter Eigen, a member of the Africa Progress Panel (APP), during the Worl
Peter Heinlein
ADDIS ABABA - The World Economic Forum on Africa has ended with a fresh call for the continent's leaders to deliver in areas ranging from jobs to justice and better governance. Former U.N. secretary-general Kofi Annan used the full weight of his reputation to pressure leaders to improve the lives of their citizens.

At 74, Kofi Annan is going strong. Six years after he completed two terms at the helm of the United Nations, the Ghanaian statesman is a driving force at this international gathering of business and political leaders.

With rock legend Bob Geldof at his side, Mr. Annan on Friday released a report card on Africa's progress. It warned that the continent's impressive economic growth is at risk as hundreds of millions of young Africans reach maturity over the next few years without jobs or hope of a better life.

Kofi Annan, Chairman of Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa address a news conference during the World Economic Forum on Africa in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, May 10, 2012.Kofi Annan, Chairman of Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa address a news conference during the World Economic Forum on Africa in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, May 10, 2012.
x
Kofi Annan, Chairman of Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa address a news conference during the World Economic Forum on Africa in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, May 10, 2012.
Kofi Annan, Chairman of Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa address a news conference during the World Economic Forum on Africa in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, May 10, 2012.
"Growth is essential, but growth without jobs, justice and equity is a recipe for disaster," Anan said. "As we are seeing in the current dissatisfaction and frustration reverberating around the world, these deep and enduring inequalities in evidence across the continent are ethically indefensible, economically inefficient and potentially destabilizing."

The former U.N. chief said Africa's political progress is fragile, and in danger of sliding backward toward the bad old days of frequent military coups.

"The recent events in Senegal demonstrate how fragile our democracies are," said Annan. "Senegal gave us a wonderful example of how to hold elections. And the democratic reversals we've seen in Mali and Guinea also pose serious challenges for us."

Several events at this economic forum have addressed the pressing need to empower African women. Earlier, leaders spoke of the difficulty in recruiting qualified women to politics and government.

In his comments to reporters, Annan flatly rejected that line of thinking. "I have seen African political parties saying we cannot find women candidates. It's a lie," he said.

"There are plenty of good women candidates around," Annan continued. "The same political parties who cannot find women, if you were to come up with a quota, and to say one-third of the parliament should be women, they would suddenly find brilliant women candidates because they want to win."

Annan avoided commenting on his attempt to broker a peace deal in Syria, knowing anything he would say about his diplomatic mission would overshadow the points he wants to make about Africa. In comments to VOA, he said he will keep on using his voice as a force for change on the continent of his birth.

"It's still important and it's still necessary. It's a continent with big potential, and we should help to realize that potential," he said.

Q: Do you feel like you're making significant progress? Do you think you'll see it in your lifetime?
A: We are making progress, and I will see some of it in my lifetime, not all of it, and there will be others to carry on the struggle."

Annan said if he has one priority for Africa, it is education.  With 60 percent of the continent's estimated one billion people under 30, he said an educated work force will be key to attracting the foreign investment needed to create the jobs that will be essential to sustaining political and economic stability.

You May Like

ASEAN Ministers Set to Push for South China Sea Agreements

According to documents obtained by VOA Khmer, ministers will stand up for 'freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful maritime commerce, trade and over flight' More

Puerto Rico Defaults on $58M Debt Payment

Payment was due Saturday, default is first in country's 117 years as a United States possession More

Turkish Public Fears Jihadists More Than Kurds

Turkey facing twin threats of terrorism by Islamic State and PKK Kurdish separatists, says President Erdogan’s ruling AK Party More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Communityi
X
Sharon Behn
August 03, 2015 2:23 PM
A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs