A new report is out listing the concerns that jeopardize African economic growth and development. The report is called Africa at Risk 2008. Its release coincides with next week’s World Economic Forum on Africa, which will be held in Cape Town, South Africa.
Co-author Irene Casanova is a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Risk Program. From Johannesburg, she spoke to VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua.
She says the report cites four risk areas: Food and Fresh water Security, Geopolitical Instability, Economic Shocks and Climate Change.
“In 43 Africa countries there are food deficiencies. Inflation does not help. Population keeps on growing. And even if agricultural productivity has improved, it needs to increase even further. These combined with social conflict and so on -- actually it makes the situation at risk,” she says.
One solution, she says, would be to expand Africa’s Green Revolution to go beyond technology and reform government enterprises to improve agricultural productivity and bring economic stability.
As for geopolitical instability, she says, “Even if the…armed conflicts have gone down, they are still somehow present. Again, combined with social unrest, we see a need to strengthen capacity to implement development, trade and investment policies in Africa.”
Asked whether the economic shocks mentioned in the report include soaring food and energy prices, Casanova responds, “Obviously food and energy prices do affect the economic landscape…. Much of the (economic) growth comes from oil itself. And there’s a need to. diversify the economy in order to make the (economic) growth sustainable.
The fourth risk factor is climate change. She says, “Africa is facing a huge challenge when we talk about climate change, because Africa is the most vulnerable region to climate change in the world. Africa actually is warming, is warming now. Climate change…needs a lot of investment. It costs money. Investment is required in order to adapt each country and each economic situation to climate change.”
The Africa at Risk 2008 report says these four risk factors are not isolated, describing them as “highly interconnected.”