His Highness the Aga Khan extolled Africa’s resilience, economic progress and new willingness to accept diversity, said a press realease of Aga Khan Development Network.
“What I see emerging today is a refreshingly balanced confidence in Africa – a spirit that takes encouragement from past progress, while also seeking new answers to new challenges,” he said.
The Imam of the Ismailis made the remarks in a keynote address to the “Africa 2016: Business for Africa, Egypt and the World” conference in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, hosted by Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el Sisi.
The Aga Khan noted the decidedly upbeat spirit about Africa’s economic future that emanated from the speeches of African leaders taking part in the conference. “My enthusiasm today is especially strong because of the message which is at the heart of this Forum. And that message is, quite simply, that Africa’s Moment has come,” he declared.
While cautioning that Africa still faced formidable challenges, including high unemployment levels among the continent’s young people, he said that the continent had made significant progress in a number of key areas.
“The story of Africa’s progress and potential is also impressive – whether we talk about growing GDP and foreign direct investment, whether we look at economic diversification and national resiliency, whether we chart the rise of a vital middle class – and the expansion of consumer spending – now breaking through the one trillion-dollar-mark,” he said.
He noted that the experience of the Aga Khan Development Network, which is active in 13 African countries and works in an array of sectors ranging from health to education to culture to economic development, supports the positive picture.
He observed that fragmentation has long been one of the continent’s main weaknesses. “The problem of fragmentation has often afflicted Africa, separating tribe from tribe, country from country, the private sector from the public sector – those who hold political power from those who are in the opposition,” he explained.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 23rd, 2016.