At the dawn of the twenty-first century, the Organization of African Unity (now the African Union) launched the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) in 2001 to build an integrated socioeconomic development framework for Africa. Its objectives are to eradicate poverty; to place African countries, both individually and collectively, on a path of sustainable growth and development; to halt the marginalization of Africa in the globalization process and enhance its full and beneficial integration into the global economy; and to accelerate the empowerment of women. Bamanga Tukur, a prominent businessman from Nigeria, is chairman of the NEPAD Business Group.
Soyinka-Airewele, Peyi, and Rita Kiki Edozie, eds. Reframing Contemporary Africa:Politics, Economics, and Culture in the Global Era. Washington, D.C.: CQ Press,2010.
Adjusting to those changes, Africans began diversifying their destinations: West African French–speaking migrants went to Italy, Germany, Spain, or the United States; Egyptians to the Persian Gulf; and some Nigerian traders to China. Students often chose to attend American universities that offered substantial scholarships. In addition, migrants reconverted to self–employment in the commercial sector, to avoid the risks and frustrations of menial wage–labor. In keeping with their traditional involvement in local and long–distance commerce, African women have turned to international migrations: they import both products in high demand among African expatriates and institutions such as the tontine, an alternative banking system. Professional women have also taken to migrating on their own: nurses and doctors from Nigeria and Ghana find jobs in Saudi Arabia, or in the United States and Great Britain, respectively. As for traffickers, they have devised ever bolder schemes to smuggle Africans into Western countries, such as loading them onto small fishing boats for perilous crossings from Senegal to Spain.
Emigration deprives Africa of an estimated 300,000 people per year, of whom 20,000 are highly skilled professionals. Brain drain, particularly severe in the medical domain, costs Africa $4 billion in expert replacement per year. Thus African nations face a multilayered challenge: they must curb emigration by reducing unemployment and offering attractive living conditions to their citizens; tap into the yearly $19 billion of remittances sent home by sub–Saharan migrants (which represents 2.5 percent of the GDP, and more than foreign direct investment); and protect their nationals abroad from exploitation, xenophobia, and police brutality. Furthermore, better inter–African coordination is needed, as the largest African migrations take place within Africa itself.
In 1963 the thirty–two heads of newly independent states created, in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), the Organization of African Unity (OAU), an organization inspired by Kwame Nkrumah's vision of the United States of Africa. Its goal was to decolonize the rest of the African colonies, fight apartheid, and promote cultural unity on the continent. Lacking an armed force to enforce decisions and committed to the principle of non–interference with national sovereignty, the OAU was powerless to resolve crises in Uganda, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Somalia. Yet it provided support for anti–colonial militants of Southern Africa in exile. It also provided the structure for the launching of the African Development Bank in 1967, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in 1975, and the Southern African Development Coordination Conference (SADCC) in 1980. While SADCC and ECOWAS have both been instrumental in negotiating development loans, in 1990 ECOWAS launched ECOMOG, a peacekeeping force known for its interventions in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Côte d'Ivoire, and Rwanda.
Contrary to the Western perception that wars in Africa are based on secular "ethnic rivalry," most have been fought over access to land and resources. During the Cold War, some Western powers fomented civil unrest to ensure that governments friendly to their agenda remained in power, and East and West fought wars by proxy on the continent. Since then, serious conflicts involving more than one thousand deaths a year declined to 2.6 a year in the 2000s, from 4.8 in the 1990s.
However, these technologies do not guarantee development or democracy, even with lower costs and the broadcast of unhindered personal expression. The push for African governments to disengage from the installation of both infrastructure and networks implies increased dependence on foreign aid. Additionally, the spread of more or less objective representations of the Western lifestyle may widen the perceived gap between Africa and the rest of the world, between rural and urban settings, and may ultimately encourage extroversion. Thus, the challenge for Africa is to ponder the relevance of regulating cyberspace; to train active users who can deal with ideologically or culturally objectionable material; and to generate African content to fill existing lacunae or counteract stereotypical views of the continent.
Fallon, Kathleen M. Democracy and the Rise of Women's Movements in Sub-SaharanAfrica. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010.
Recent studies show that a huge potential market for broadband access exists in Kenya, Egypt, and Nigeria. Wireless solutions and the commercialization of computers at less than $200 should also popularize the use of the Internet. In July 2009 Seacom completed its connection of the East Coast and South Africa with Europe and Asia, with a 10,565–mile–long sub–marine fiber–optic cable at a cost of $700 million. Several operators are at work on ten similar projects of undersea cable connectors. The 2010 World Cup, in South Africa, has been a powerful motivator for both operators and consumers: in fact, the South African MTN paid $65 million for the rights to the multimedia contents of that event, accessible through the Internet and multimedia phones.
Though slower to penetrate the African market, the Internet has generated spectacular interest. The installation of costly equipment often competes with other priorities and depends on the existence of multiple sources of funding (private donors, public entities, and agencies such as UNESCO or the American Leland Initiative). Its use supposes a certain literacy rate, income level, and free time. As a result, in 2009 only 7 percent of the African population had Internet access, mostly in urban centers and mostly through three specific channels – the government, the associations, and the cybercafés. Yet the overall rate of connections between the late 1990s and 2005 has multiplied by a factor of 5.
From its inception in 1912, the African National Congress fought against minority rule, segregation, racism, and from 1948, apartheid. Its military wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe (Spear of the Nation), co-founded and led by Nelson Mandela, waged a guerilla warfare against the apartheid regime. The ANC and other liberation movements such as the Pan-Africanist Congress, and the Black Consciousness Movement were banned. On February 3, 1990, demonstrators in Alexandra Township gathered to support the newly- legalized ANC, PAC and more than thirty other formerly banned organizations.
Africa's high percentage of young people, its rate of urbanization (estimated at 35 percent in the first decade of the twenty–first century, 40 percent in 2015 and 50 percent in 2050), and its global consciousness are the main reasons for the successful expansion of the NICTs on the continent. For instance, the number of subscriptions to cellular phone services went from 72,000 in 1995 to 400 million in 2010, and the 2006 growth in mobile phone equipment was the highest in the world. Moreover, cooperation between private companies and states has recently enabled the extension of cellular networks into rural areas. Competition among operators is lowering the cost of subscriptions for consumers while diversifying the range of services available to them, with, notably, the recent development of the capability to pay bills or do banking operations via mobile phone.