Best stories from Africa – 2010

December 31, 2010  By: Gretchen

To end the year on a hopeful note, from our friends at Africa – The Good News, here is a partial listing of their top stories from Africa for 2010:

2010: The year Africa hosted the world

“Irrespective of the result of the final, the real victor of the 2010 FIFA World Cup is Africa and the South African people,” stated a press release from the United Nations in the week following the final match between Spain and the Netherlands hosted at Soccer City in Johannesburg.

In 2010 Africa was, once again, characterized by a mix of triumphs and tragedies. Seventeen African countries celebrated 50 years of independence from colonial rule, to mixed analysis of the progress that’s been made. Many African countries made significant progress during the year, while the outlook for some remain far from positive.

The year will, however, probably be remembered as the year that Africa successfully hosted the world and showcased the organisational skills, hospitality and enthusiasm of its people, and the vast potential of the continent. Therefore, as we highlight some of the best good news stories of the year, we have to start with the successes of Africa and South Africa in hosting the world’s biggest sporting event.

An African World Cup

South Africa’s hosting of the 2010 FIFA World Cup was almost universally seen as a success story, not only for the country, but also for the continent. FIFA President Sepp Blatter gave South Africa a score of 9 out of 10 for organizing a successful tournament, as compliments poured in from all over the world. While most compliments went to the host country, Blatter called on the people of South Africa to use the success of the World Cup as an example of what the African continent can achieve.

When South Africa was chosen as host for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, they promised the world a truly African tournament. However, some parts of the media questioned just how African the 2010 World Cup was. Analysis of tourist trends during the tournament showed that almost 40% of World Cup visitors were from Africa, suggesting it was an African World Cup after all. In addition to African soccer enthusiasts, the World Cup final was also attended by at least 15 African heads of state. Some commentators commended the World Cup for highlighting Africa’s biggest improvements, such as the vast amount of economic growth and infrastructure development changing the face of the continent.

Kenya votes for a new constitution

South Africa was not the only country to reach a milestone in 2010. Kenya took an important step forward when Kenyans voted in favor of a new constitution that set out a Bill of Rights, created a National Land Commission, and de-centralized political power: a vote many Kenyans saw as paving the way for greater government accountability and a fairer distribution of resources.

In addition to, and in some cases as a result of, the new constitution, Kenya also saw aproperty boom, a rise in remittances, a record year for tourism and a projected 4.9 % GDP growth in 2010.

Tourism growth

In 2009 Africa was the only continent to see a rise in the number of international tourist arrivals – with travelers increasing by 5% – compared to decrease of 4% worldwide. In 2010 the World Cup in South Africa and increased political stability in Kenya contributed to a growth in tourism on the continent. Other countries to see growth in tourism include Zimbabwe, Angola and Mauritius. Sierra Leone also saw tourists, in small numbers, returning eight years after fighting ended in the western African country.

HIV/Aids and other pandemics

Africa has also gone a long way to improving its image as continent of death and disease. Contributing to a global decline in the rate of new HIV infections, a report from UNAIDS shows that 22 countries in sub-Saharan Africa have reduced new HIV infections by more than 25 percent. The development and improved availability of medical treatment for HIV also lead to a slight improvement in life expectancy in southern Africa.

Going green

While 190 nations are gathered in Cancun, Mexico until 10 December for the 16th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, there is a growing awareness of the possible benefits green energy and protecting the environment can bring to Africa.

Some exciting developments from the past year include:

•The launch of a green wall, or transcontinental 7,000-km tree planting project, reaching from Senegal to Djibouti in east Africa;
•New onshore wind farms on four islands in the Cape Verde archipelago, planned to be the first large scale wind project on the continent and the first renewable energy public private partnership in sub-Saharan Africa;
•Huge investor interest in Morocco’s $9 billion solar power scheme;
•Research this week showed the number of endangered mountain gorillas in national parks straddling Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo has increased by 26 percent in the last seven years, a sign that conservation efforts are paying off

2011: a brighter future beckons

Another newsletter of the same length could be written about progress and innovation in Africa during the past year, specifically on the difference media and mobile technology is making to the lives of many.

While the World Cup gave the world a glimpse of the potential hidden behind the barrage of negative images from Africa, it is our hope that the year 2011 will offer undeniable evidence of a continent changing, growing and developing for the better. If some of the positive trends continue, we hope to see increased regional integration and trade between African countries, more life-changing innovation, and economic growth channeled by good governance to improve the lives of Africans across the continent.

2010 news story recap courtesy Africa – The Good News.

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