Few Good Things About Africa Part 2
6. South African democracy took a turn for the interesting. During this past summer’s local government elections, Helen Zille’s Democratic Alliance party gained a surprising twenty-one per cent share of votes against the deeply entrenched African National Congress, which has ruled since the fall of apartheid. (Nelson Mandela was once its leader.) This is no small feat. The A.N.C., in spite of its corruption and multiple scandals, has held on to its dominance in part by invoking racial rhetoric and the spectre of the apartheid era, and has nearly turned South Africa into a one-party state. The D.A., led by a liberal white female politician who campaigns for multiracial progress, has had difficulty gaining voters across the racial divide. That may be changing.
And in other good news, President Jacob Zuma unexpectedly fired two top ministers and the police chief for corruption.
7. African innovation was celebrated for a third year at Maker Faire Africa. Emeka Okafor, a Nigerian, once said that he couldn’t understand why, in the tech realm, so little interesting and creative activity seemed to be coming out of sub-Saharan Africa. Curious about what good ideas from Africa looked like, he helped found Maker Faire Africa, where inventors from across the continent gather to showcase their wares—this October in Cairo, in previous years in Nairobi and Accra. The result has been astounding: mobile apps, seed-planting devices, solar-powered computer kiosks made out of recycled oil drums, paraffin lamps, and other technologies that, importantly, address the immediate needs of Africans.
8. (Some) progress in Somalia.the African Union’s peacekeeping troops, drawn from several African countries and supported by U.S. funds, drones, and contractors, appear to be prevailing in the war against Somalia’s insurgents. The situation is still bad—five hundred soldiers have been killed so far and the Somali government has yet to build any real infrastructure—but the African Union remains optimistic.
Better yet, the rains have finally started in central and southern Somalia, easing both the drought and the famine.
9. Botswana as a global leader in fighting corruption. According to the just-released Corruption Perception Index, done every year by Transparency International, Botswana was ranked thirty-two out of the hundred and eighty-three countries included in the survey, and was up four places from last year and eight places since 2009. The country ranked over half of all European nations. Botswana has launched an intense approach to weeding out corruption by setting up a Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime to investigate and bring prosecutions, and by drafting legislation that will protect whistle-blowers. Here’s hoping Botswana’s neighbors follow suit.
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