Africa’s potential is both unmatched and untapped. 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 expected only to rise, 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. Conflict continues to inflict devastating human suffering, damage economies and social fabrics, and destroy 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. Equally alarming is the convergence of terrorist and criminal organizations into a new and hybrid threat, that recognizes no borders.
Today’s threats to peace, security and development in Africa are unique in many ways. First, their concurrence, frequency and sheer size are unprecedented. Second, they expose serious weaknesses, vulnerabilities and shortcomings of the continent’s security structures and mechanisms. Third, they are happening at a time of shaking global structures, in a world distracted by a plethora of other ongoing and potential crises.
In these testing times, Africa can count on the efforts of none, but itself. 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.
As the Chairman of the African Union, Egypt is taking the initiative to launch this conversation. The Aswan Forum for Sustainable Peace and Development will provide the first of its kind platform to address these inseparable issues. The Forum, to be held in December of every year, will bring together heads of states and governments, leaders from national governments, regional and international organizations and financial institutions, the 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.