Africa – the continent of the future

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This is according to Louis Michel, co-president of the ACP (African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States) -EU (European Union) Joint Parliamentary Assembly (JPA) speaking at the opening of its 28th session.

Michel said that Africa has immense tracts of arable land, a wealth of raw materials, growing cultural influence and a youthful population.

“With an average economic growth rate of five per cent and population growth of 2.5 per cent per year, [Africa] has become in-dissociable from globalisation” he said.

 “Yet much remains to be done to make these assets really work for Africa. Growth must be sustainable and inclusive.”

(READ MORE: Global SMEs overlook Africa’s potential)

JPA’s co-president Fitz Jackson added, “When we speak of economic growth, we should also consider the critical role that the private sector plays in facilitating economic growth and reducing poverty, inequality and income disparity in ACP States.”

He added that peace and stability are constantly threatened by terrorist groups in regions such as the Horn of Africa, Mali and Nigeria.

African authorities must therefore be given the means to run effective and lasting counter-terrorist policies to prevent the continent from turning into a lawless area for traffickers worldwide.

“Like terrorism, wars, massacres and ethnic violence know no borders. Reconciliation is always painful, but it is the only way to return to the peace and harmony that cement a people,” said Michel.

(READ MORE: “Collateral” death toll expected to soar in Africa’s Ebola crisis)

Another major threat, Jackson added, is the Ebola outbreak.  

“[The Ebola epidemic] has become the worst outbreak of the disease in history, not only for Africa but also elsewhere in the world. The Ebola epidemic remains a global issue that urgently needs a sustained response based on our sense of humanity and empathy.”

He said that the international community should do more in terms of providing financial and technical resources to help fight the disease.

Michel welcomed joint EU and USA efforts to provide the authorities of the affected countries with financial and technical resources to help in their fight against the disease.

He also called for the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to cancel debts owed by the severely affected countries and invited other multilateral and bilateral lenders to assist.