Major transitions are rapidly reshaping Africa. Populations are growing substantially and urbanising. Economic growth has accelerated over the last decade. New technologies, including mobile phones and solar cells, are sweeping across the continent. Longstanding conflicts have been or are being addressed. On the broader stage, but with important regional implications, the rise of China, India and other major emerging countries are changing our trading and investment patterns.
Yet major uncertainties face us. How rapidly will we bring communicable diseases under control and advance the education of our citizens? Can Africa diversify its economies and employ its growing populations in manufacturing and services, as well as successfully managing the wealth generated by its raw materials? Will climate change increase pressures on agriculture or will Africa have its own green revolution? How will the continent build the extensive infrastructures that it desperately needs? What will be the quality of our governance? How will external actors, both governments and firms, approach and affect Africa?
Africans share common goals. We seek extensive and sustainable human development. We strive for conflict reduction and widespread acceptance of and even support for diversity. We wish to see human rights respected everywhere. As we pursue our goals in the contexts of both rapid change and great uncertainty, we need insight into the path that we are on and where that path is taking us, as well as into the leverage that our choices provide us.
With this monograph the Institute for Security Studies and the Pardee Center for International Futures provide an extensive study of our current course. Combining the deep and wide knowledge of Africa within the ISS with extensive use of the IFs modelling system, this discussion goes beyond past work in a number of ways. It looks across most major issue arenas: demographics, economics, sociopolitical change, the environment and human development itself, including health and education. It explores further into our future than perhaps any other extensive study of African futures has ever done. While not pushing forward specific policy initiatives, it provides a context within which those who pursue sustainable human development can consider our policies.
While providing us with a broad set of insights concerning where we may be going, clearly this study leaves room for much future work. No one can predict the future and we do not pretend to do so. Instead this publication provides one possible future, shaped by recent and likely future developments, but with the clear statement that it is only one such vision. The intention is to build, in the near future and in collaboration with other African institutions, other visions, rooted heavily in alternative choices and actions across the continent. Clearly, the story of Africa's future has only begun.