Four crises dominate the global economy today – a financial crisis in the developed countries, an energy crisis that is worsening by the day, climate change which is becoming both better understood and more urgent, and a food crisis which is devastating to the world’s poorest citizens. We have missed early opportunities to deal with the first two crises. It is imperative that we meet the challenge of the third and take immediate steps to address the fourth. And indeed these crises are linked- increasing the world’s supply of food will require substantial resources as well as a re-thinking of policies towards aid, trade, energy, and climate change.
Against the background of these immediate challenges, the substantial progress that Africa has made in recent years is threatened. Climatic and geographic factors are exacerbating the problem of food shortages and of other economic or disaster-related shocks. It may not be easy to overcome these problems, but the world has a stake in realising the African continent’s huge potential to thrive. The international community has expressed a common ambition to see Africa become a well-governed, peaceful, secure, stable and prosperous continent. Africa’s leaders and their development partners have undertaken precise commitments in support of this aim.
The objective of the report of the Africa Progress Panel is to examine the state of the continent in 2008, to focus world leaders’ attention on delivering on existing commitments and to mobilise resources to deal with new challenges, in particular the crisis in food production. The Panel has drawn on the work of various institutions and eminent individuals working on African issues to present an independent assessment of progress. We have strived to combine these assessments with our experience and judgement to highlight pressing concerns, inspire honest debate amongst leaders and civil society, and prompt effective action.
I am honoured to chair this Panel and I invite all of you who share our vision for Africa to read and act on this report.
Koffi Annan, Chair