The Southern Voices Network, a consortium of 15 research and policy organizations from across Africa, recently met at the Wilson Center to discuss a range of issues that included peace building and development. Five participants in the conference provide CONTEXT on what’s on the agenda between Africa and the U.S., and also share thoughts on how the United States can more effectively work with various African nations.
Africa Program Global Fellow Dr. James A. Schear analyzes the Security Governance Initiative (SGI) which was announced at last year's U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit. Schear discusses the aspects of the SGI which he foresees as being the most challenging to implement.
The last week of May the Africa program hosted this year's annual Southern Voices Network Conference. Representatives of many different members of the Southern Voices Network gathered for four days at the Wilson Center to engage in discussion on contemporary issues in Africa as well as the work of each of their respective organizations.
After two terms, Jakaya Kikwete will conclude his time as President of Tanzania later this year. He Visited the Wilson Center for a conversation that included reflection on his time in office, thoughts on Tanzania's progress and challenges, and that also provided a preview of his post-presidency plans. That's the focus of this edition of REWIND.
"Hundreds of thousands living in violence-prone regions defied extremists and voted. The professionalism, transparency and independence demonstrated by Independent Nigerian Electoral Commission (INEC) provided credibility, in a country where it is usually lacking, and galvanized a fractured country," writes Monde Muyangwa and Raymond Gilpin.
"Corruption helps drive inequality. Over 60% of Nigerians live on less than $1 a day, despite Nigeria having Africa’s largest gross domestic product (nearly $510 billion). Unemployment figures are disputed, but a 2013 estimate puts unemployment at 22% and youth unemployment at 38%. As some Nigerians enrich themselves, and as a middle class grows in parts of the country, millions of Nigerians still have no livelihood." writes Alex Thurston.
"Responsible, committed, honest leadership is rare in sub-Saharan Africa. Yet, good leadership establishes good governance in the many parts of the developing world (like most of Africa) that do not yet possess fully formed functional political institutions. In too many countries the persons (nearly all men) who preside largely run the show and brush democratic procedures and pieties aside." writes Robert Rotberg.
"Zimbabwe is expiring, again. More banks are failing, beer sales – a key indicator – have slumped dramatically since 2013, tourist arrivals are down, and the business confidence index is at lowest ebb since the wildly inflationary days of 2008. Most tellingly, President Robert Gabriel Mugabe in January told civil servants to be patient - he “hoped” that they would soon be paid their monthly wages on a regular basis (something which had not happened often in 2014)" writes Dr. Robert Rotberg, about the plight of Zimbabwe under Mugabe's presidency.
"Zimbabwe’s autocratic president is a dreadful role model. His party has been charged with intimidation, vote-rigging, or other forms of fraud in every election since it first won in 1980," writes Robin Wright.
The overall objective of the Southern Voices Network is to increase the visibility of African perspectives into US policymaking towards Africa. As a critical component of the project, the Scholarship Program creates the opportunity for select individuals from Southern Voices Network member organizations to complete a policy-oriented research project and engage with US policymakers and practitioners, increasing the visibility and influence of their work.