Africa has been at the cusp of transformation for the past decade. The Africa Rising story provides some hope and there are many bright spots across the Continent; however, critical challenges continue to limit the actualization of its full potential.
In spite of widespread GDP growth, many Africans are being left behind. The MDG Report 2015: Assessing Progress in Africa toward the Millennium Development Goals, revealed that despite incremental improvements in gender equity, health and education, many countries struggled to meet the needs of the hardest-to-reach populations on the continent such as out-of-school youth, children with disabilities and living in conflict affected States, nomadic people, rural communities and some ethnic minorities. In addition, most African countries did not meet the MDG goals of poverty reduction.
Thirteen years after the African Union 2003 Maputo Declaration on Agriculture and Food Security, the Continent remains a net importer of food and burdened by food insecurity and high rates of malnutrition. Rapid urbanization has fostered the emergence of megacities struggling to meet the immense transportation, housing, sanitation, security and energy challenges that confront them. These trends, coupled with the alarming population growth and youth unemployment rates, create a real sense of urgency for critical and far reaching interventions.
With the launch of the Sustainable Development Goals, and the progress on the global climate change agenda, it is imperative for African leaders in the public, private and nonprofit sectors to take bold steps and make big bets. Incremental changes will be insufficient to accelerate the realization of Africa’s true potential before 2030.
The 2016 African Philanthropy Forum, held in Morocco just a few weeks before the 22nd session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 22) to the UNFCCC, presents a unique opportunity to reflect on the required bold steps and big bets, especially in response to the agricultural, climate, energy, governance and urbanization challenges facing the African Continent. It also provided philanthropists and social investors on the Continent with the opportunity to consider the critical and strategic roles that they have to play individually and collectively in this journey of transformation.