Despite significant progress towards peace, Africa remains the most conflict-ridden region of the world and yet, until recently, it was the one region without a Peace Centre. Despite the ongoing conflict, Africa has recorded significant growth in both Gross Domestic Product and Foreign Direct Investment. While this growth has the potential to strike at the root of conflicts and to lift millions out of poverty, it often does not translate into much needed development and at times even fuels the conflict. As a result, Africa will struggle to meet any of the Millennium Development Goals.
The inequality that often characterises poverty in fragile, conflict-ridden states remains a key stumbling block for the continent. Without continued effort and significant investment in conflict resolution, recent gains will be lost and new wars are likely to break out.
The Business Imperative
These wars have shattered the lives of million of Africans, but have also exacted a heavy economic toll. Recent research by Oxfam and SaferWorld estimate that on average armed conflict shrinks a nation’s economy by 15%.
While there may be short-term economic gain for some within a context of conflict, it is well established that stabile political environments are far more conducive to economic growth and corporate profitability. Recent developments in Kenya show how devastating even short spells of political unrest can be to an economy.