The cross-border support noted among Africans for African teams in the World Cup indicates the presence of significant parallel factors we have identified in relation to peacefulness in societies, such as good relations with neighbors and acceptance of the rights of others.
Consulting firm McKinsey recently produced a report that showed that Africa returned a compound annual economic growth rate of 4.9 percent between 2000 and 2008. Sub-Saharan Africa, often seen as stuck in a dark age of poverty and misery, saw average GDP growth of 4.8 percent between 2004 and 2008.
During the global meltdown in 2008, Africa grew by 2 percent and is on the rise still.
And, as noted in a recent Businessweek column, the per capita GDP of Africa’s strongest economies (such as Morocco, South Africa, and Tunisia) is actually higher than the BRIC nations – Brazil, Russia, India, and China.
This is not to say that all is rosy on the African continent. Massive problems still exist. Famines occur in many areas, women are treated appallingly in some areas, and the scourge of HIV/AIDS is ever-present. Moreover, the above statistics can be undermined by, for instance, major inequalities in access for many Africans to economic opportunity, by poor governance, and by uneven distribution of the benefits of development.
But such problems need not define the continent and, in terms of offering aid and economic assistance, an emphasis on the positives should be encouraged – for it is here that solutions and future directions will be found.
The facts confirm that Africans have the capacity to lift themselves out of poverty and to stop seemingly endless conflict. In 2006, a Gallup International survey that Africans, ahead of those from any other continent, were the most optimistic people. These are the tools of success and of peace.