In 2010 Africa was, once again, characterised 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
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
In addition to, and in some cases as a result of, the new constitution, Kenya also saw a property boom, a rise in remittances, a record year for tourism and a projected 4.9 % GDP growth in 2010.
HIV/Aids and other pandemics
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
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 channelled by good governance to improve the lives of Africans across the continent.