For four consecutive years, Africa has experienced record economic growth. Overall in 2008, the continent registered 5.2% GDP growth, and a per capita increase of 3.2%. The number of conflicts has declined. Poverty levels have started to fall, and there has been great progress in increasing primary school enrolment. But despite this progress, Africa remains off-track on most Millennium Development Goals MDGs). Today, the continent faces a raft of new challenges. Together with the rest of the world, it will be severely affected by the deep downturn in the world economy and, according to the latest IMF projections, the continent’s real GDP growth will slow to 3.3% in 2009.
If Africa is to accelerate progress towards the MDGs, it needs to be able to maintain the high growth rate of recent years. The international community has a key role to play, in taking action to restore confidence and stimulate the real economy, and in directing policies to help meet the needs to Africa and other developing regions. African governments, too, face challenges, many of which are the same as those that have confronted OECD governments for decades: how to promote sustainable economic growth, how to improve public financial management, how to build sound governance systems, how to achieve more inclusive societies, and—looking ahead—how to tackle the challenge of climate change.