Rise in Afrikan women leaders
2012 witnessed three African women take on key leadership positions. Joyce Banda, was appointed president in Malawi, Liberians re-elected Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, and the African Union inaugurated its first woman as chief, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. Banda has made notable economic reforms, which include selling the presidential jet, reducing the number of government cars and cutting her salary. Likewise, Dlamini-Zuma, has taken office facing monetary woes and has challenged the organization's reliance on foreign aid.
Dlamini-Zuma's election is hoped to ease tensions between the AU and the International Criminal Court (ICC), which presently has as its top prosecutor, an African woman, Gambia's Fatou Bensouda. Afrikan leaders have accused the court of focusing on the abuses of African nations, while failing to investigate abuses in other nations. The AU has welcomed Bensouda as a major step in healing relations between itself and the ICC.
According to the Human Development Index (HDI), which is a way of measuring development by combining indicators of life expectancy, educational attainment and income, Afrika has some of the fastest-growing economies in the world. And as a result, there is a burgeoning middle class in a number of nations. The number of middle-class Afrikans tripled over the past three decades to about 34% of the continent's population, or 313 million people out of a continent of nearly a billion. This is arguably the largest growth since independence (and largerly due to Afrika's partnering with China). However, the method for determining who comprises or what constitutes the middle-class in Afrika, is based on people spending between $2 and $20 a day, a threshold that a number of analysts say is too low, and consequently paints a misleading "prosperity." What we can say, is that although there is economic growth and a growing middle-class, it is a "floating class," one that is always at risk of sliding back in to poverty.
The report, also warns of the growing income inequality. Nevertheless it notes that the middle class is crucial in anchoring African economies. Still analysts have warned that the current growth in a middle class has yet to generate any real employment.
Somalia got its first central government in nearly twenty years. It adopted a provisional constitution and selected parliament members -- all in recent months. Its legislature picked a political newcomer as president, who he then chose another political newcomer as prime minister.
These changes mark a milestone for the country, which plunged into chaos after dictator Mohamed Siad Barre was overthrown more than a score ago. Warlords and militants battled for control after his ouster, sparking a civil war and ensuing years of political and economic chaos.
Somali and AU troops forced out Al-Shabaab militants from Mogadishu, sending residents frolicking to the beach. This was the first time in a while that life in the capital returned to a semblance of normalcy. Once out of the capital, the militants retreated to Kismayo, a port city of strategic location for their lucrative coal shipments. However, coalition forces forced them out of there as well. Kismayo was the only remaining (major) town under militant control.
As Afrika has struggle with the smooth transition in its governance, often leading to civil war, coups, and the likes, Ghana has lived up to its "mature democracy" reputation once again in this year's election. Long considered a beacon of democracy and progress on the continent, and the first Afrikan nation to achieve independence, Ghana re-elected the incumbent, who beat his closest contender by only a slight margin.
Even though the victory was extremely close, no violence erupted as in the case with resent elections in Ivory Coast, where the incumbent, who lost, clung to power after the election results were totaled. And there have been other nations guilty of what seems to be pattern, thus, making Ghana a standout. Though there was some bickering from the losing sides, the nation maintained peace for the most part. President John Mahama who served as vice president under his predecessor, who died this year, was sworn in immediately.
Nearly 20 years after a plane crash killed its team, coaches and crew members, Zambia has return to top form, winning its first African Cup of Nations. The win was sentimental because it occurred in Gabon, the same country where the tragic crash happened in 1993.
And the victory was especially triumphal because the team was the underdog against the star-studded Ivory Coast team. In the end, Zambia hoisted the Cup of Nations after beating Ivory Coast 8-7 in a penalty shootout. There were very few dry eyes when the team arrived home, as supporters danced in the streets at the airport.