By Guy Stehilk
Not too long ago, the outside world referred to Africa as ‘the dark continent’, a region plagued by conflict, famine, dictatorships, corruption, failing economies, and a massive infrastructure gap – to name but a few challenges.
Whilst the situation is far from perfect, many countries have made significant progress in dealing with these and other pressing issues.
Take Rwanda, which went from the killing of 1 million people in just three months to being the perfect example of a successful African country.
Ethiopia is another example. For decades, the country was known for the terrible 1984-85 famine but now is one of the fastest-growing economies on the continent. Last year, its GDP growth rate stood at 9.2% , which is way more than the average growth rates for the rest of Africa and the world at large.
Kenya, in the meantime, has become Africa’s top spot for tech and innovation, taking advantage of the region’s huge rates of mobile penetration. Sub-Saharan Africa’s mobile subscriber base is expected to expand by 4.6% per year for the next six years, amounting to 600 million people by 2025.
And then there’s Nigeria, where democracy has returned. The country’s focus is on diversifying its economy so it can move beyond oil and gas.
Tourism is a key priority area, and not without reason: between 2012 and 2017, the number of foreign visitors arriving in Nigeria grew from 486 000 to two million individuals, a 311% surge in five years! No wonder we at BON Hotels are expanding throughout the country.
This sort of progress resulted from politicians, private business, citizens and civil society working together to drive their countries and continent forward. As always, partnerships are crucial when wanting to get things done.
Rwanda couldn’t have achieved what it has without the support of neighbouring countries, and the same can be said for South Africa. From Nigeria to Malawi, citizens and politicians got involved in attacking the apartheid regime, until that system crumbled.
To witness the xenophobic attacks that have recently plagued us in South Africa goes counter to so many of the achievements made in recent years.
It goes without saying that Government, the police services and business must stand up and take action to address the background issues that have given rise to this unacceptable scenario.
All sectors have a responsibility to fight the scourge of crime and to educate the nation about why xenophobia cannot be tolerated.
Guy Stehlik, iis the Chief Executive Officer of BON Hotels International