Africa Day 2012

Africa Day is held annually on the 25th May to commemorate the founding of the African Union. It is a celebration of African diversity, unity and success. The African union, comprising 53 member states, brings together the continent to collectively address the challenges it faces such as armed conflict, climate change and poverty.

Last Saturday, Sifa and Jessica attended the 11th Annual Africa Day conference at the London Business School. The conference focussed on taking leadership and encouraging investment in Africa. It was opened with a keynote address by President Ali Bongo Odimba of Gabon who outlined his country’s radical new Sustainable Development Platform. The morning session also included an address by Acha Leke who co-founded the African Leadership Academy. The day included 4 panel sessions with distinguished speakers that focussed on investment, leadership, innovation and economic development. The day ended with an address by Dambisa Moyo author of Dead Aid and How the West was Lost. The overriding message of the conference was that we all have a duty and a responsibility to transform Africa and challenge the negative perception commonly associated with the continent.

In the office we are celebrating Africa Day by focussing each day of the week on a different country in which we are working. We have presentations, short videos, culinary treats and even dance lessons planned. We also hope to include a short video in our Article 25 Open House presentation taking place next Thursday 31st May from 5pm.

To get you started in Africa week, here are some interesting statistics:

  • Africa covers 6% of the Earth’s total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area. With 1 billion people (as of 2009) it accounts for about 14.72% of the world’s human population.
  • Africa is made up of 54 countries and a couple of disputed territories (Western Sahara and Somaliland).
  • Nigeria is the most populated country in Africa with an estimated population of 125 – 145 million people.
  • There are at least 3,000 distinct ethnic groups in Africa.
  • There are over 2000 languages spoken in Africa. Arabic (in various dialects) being the most spoken.
  • 56% of MPs in the Rwandan Parliament are women – this is the highest proportion of any country!
  • Sub-saharan Africa records GDP growth rates of around 5.4%
  • However, according to the United Nations’ Human Development Report in 2003, the bottom 25 ranked nations (151st to 175th) were all African.
  • Over 60% of Africa’s population is under 30.

This week is chance to focus on the positive stories coming out of Africa, the social and economic successes that are transforming the continent and making the most of its great natural and human wealth and diversity.