Africa’s potential is immense, but not fully realized. Today, the continent is home to at least half of the fastest-growing economies of the world. It is rich in resources and is riding a wave of urbanization, industrialization and economic diversification. Its importance in the global economy is rising, both as a market and as an engine of global growth. Moreover, the continent is the youngest region of the world. By 2030, one in every five people in the world will live in Africa.
This great promise, however, is under threat; undermined by a myriad of crises, challenges and risks to peace, security and development. The continent remains the most burdened with conflict, which inflicts devastating human suffering, damages economies and social fabrics, and destroys physical infrastructure. The numbers of migrants, refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) are at record highs. The menace of terrorism is also on the rise. By exploiting weaknesses and vulnerabilities in conflict zones, terrorist organizations are now able to seize and hold territory; a dramatic transformation with unsettling consequences. Equally alarming is the convergence of terrorist and criminal organizations into a new and hybrid threat that recognizes no borders.
While similar in some respects to old challenges that the continent has faced, today’s conflicts and other threats to peace, security and development in Africa are unique in many ways. First, their scale, concurrence, frequency and consequences are unprecedented. Second, they don’t necessarily lend themselves to traditional ways of settling and resolving conflicts. Third, they expose serious weaknesses and vulnerabilities of the continent’s security structures and mechanisms. Moreover, they are happening at a time of shaking global structures; in a world distracted by a plethora of other ongoing and potential crises.
Amidst these crises, Africa’s leadership is indispensable. It is, indeed, the responsibility of this generation of African leaders, policymakers and intellectuals to provide the home-grown solutions, that the continent so desperately needs, to protect the present and secure the future for generations to come.
That is the conversation that needs to start; and now.
In 2019, acting in its capacity as the Chairman of the African Union and the Champion of Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Development in Africa, Egypt took the initiative to launch the Aswan Forum for Sustainable Peace and Development. The forum provides the first of its kind platform in Africa to address the interlinkages between peace and development, and champion Africa-led solutions, through strengthening the policies-practices linkages. It will also inspire thought leadership on Africa’s future trajectory.
The Forum, to be held annually in December, will bring together heads of states and governments, leaders from national governments, regional and international organizations, financial institutions, private sector, and civil society, as well as visionaries, scholars, and prominent experts for a context-specific, action-oriented, and forward-looking discussion on the threats and challenges, as well as opportunities, ahead.
Aswan Forum Website