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Africa must remain united against extremism

Political and economic gains must be protected 
for the future and prosperity of the continent

Gulf News

Countries in Africa have been making steady social and economic progress in recent years by strengthening political governance, lifting people out of poverty and improving living standards. By some estimates, sub-Saharan Africa is expected to grow at between 5 and 7 per cent annually. Angola, Ghana, Mozambique and even the war-torn Democratic Republic of the Congo, are projected to be among the fastest growing economies in the world for the next few years – admittedly off very low base and because of their huge reserves of natural resources. However, there is also much of which to be wary. Corruption and weak, inefficient bureaucracies are often still a drag on entrepreneurship and efforts to deliver better living standards. This also leads to popular frustration and social and political instability that sometimes threatens to spill into violence. Poverty also provides a breeding ground for extremists, with whom there seems to be no way to reach a reasonable political settlement. In Somalia, Nigeria and Mali, to name but a few, extremists are sowing terror in the name of religion.

The support of the African Union (AU) for the French intervention in Mali to dislodge the extremists, who threatened to take over the country, is a clear indication the leadership of the continent is willing to take hard decisions and do whatever is necessary to protect its recent gains. The AU must maintain this determination and its united front against militants who are a threat to the future of the continent.