According to projections made by the International Monetary Fund, Africa, on average, will be the fastest growing economy of any continent for the next five years. Seven of the ten most prosperous economies are African. Besides the impulse given by the rising price of the commodities and other natural riches Africa traditionally exported, the continent’s economy is showing an encouraging development of wholesale and retail commerce, and industries such as transportation, telecommunication, and manufacturing. A considerable middle class is surging and improving its quality of life.
Parallel to this economic and social progress, in 2011 Africa held a record number of electoral processes in twenty nations including South Sudan, Benin, Nigeria, Cote d’ Ivoire, Zambia, South Africa, Liberia, Guinea, Niger Zambia, Somaliland and Tunisia. The slow transformations the continent has undergone since the 60’s have accelerated electoral democratic consolidation.
Notwithstanding, the road to development is not totally paved yet as important obstacles remain in the way as some drawbacks such as the electoral violence that erupted in Congo, Kenya, Nigeria and Côte d’Ivoire; and the decrease in the election turnout during the last few years in the entire continent and reported by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation. (See the link http://www.moibrahimfoundation.org/en/media/get/20111003_ENG2011-IIAG-SummaryReport-sml.pdf)
To deepen democratic reforms, a country needs strong institutions, with independent justice system, rule of law, and many other leverages, that combined provide an escape valve for the normal frictions and tensions societies with so many inherent inequalities.
In order to cope with the expectations of this new generation of Africans governments need to be highly effective. It is in the hand of governments to cherish the accomplishments of previous generations.
Technology can provide some of the solutions Africa needs at the present time. From civil and electoral registry systems, to electoral automation and smart cities solutions, there are plenty of options available on the market for governments to improve its transparency and effectiveness. Zambia, for example improved the transparency of its elections by using biometric technology to update its electoral registry. A partnership between Smartmatic and the UNDP made this possible. Uganda used Smartphones to improve the transparency of their most recent elections. In the end, good governments are necessary to consolidate the latest developments and conquer Africa’s next big challenge.