Africa’s role in the world
Elizabeth Donnelly, senior programme director
African actors’ capacity for collective action on issues such as climate change, the Continental Free Trade Area, and the rapid coordinated response to the COVD-19 pandemic, highlights the region’s role in protecting multilateralism and fostering cooperation to address global challenges.
The continent exerts influence via its 54 votes in international forums. This influence will increase with a young and fast-growing population: Africa’s working age population is expected to grow by 450 million by 2035. In 2023, the African Union joined the G20, and in 2024 the region’s economy is expected to be the second-fastest growing in the world.
However, African countries face an acutely entangled set of challenges, threatening their capacity to play a much-needed constructive role on the world stage.
The economic fallout of the pandemic that pushed millions more into extreme poverty, plus compounding external economic shocks; democratic stagnation and coups; natural disasters; outbreaks of violent conflict and a rapid increase in terrorism, all highlight the need for sustained and coordinated engagement with African partners to support efforts to solve complex problems.
In a globally unsettled year, and with more than a third of African countries due to hold elections in 2024, including Ghana, Senegal and South Africa, it is crucial that space, time and resource are available to think forward and plan strategically. This will enable African actors and their partners to protect and nurture points of excellence and progress, and to prevent additional crises.
Trust is pivotal to this effort. Wilton Park is committed to generating thoughtful and constructive exchanges on Africa’s role in the world and creating space to build trust. Starting with two dialogues in March, we will draw together diverse networks in African countries, the UK and elsewhere to support trust-building, strengthening of partnerships, practical problem-solving and achieving progress in Africa and globally.