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Africa has had moments of hope and optimism in the past, but this one seems different. The diverse continent of 54 sovereign nations appears ready for a genuine, lasting takeoff. Over the last decade, six of the world’s 10 fastest growing economies have been African. Across the continent, civil wars and despots are giving way to prosperity and democracy. Mobile technology has revolutionized nearly every aspect of life. Underwater aquifers have been mapped under some of Africa’s driest regions. Less than two decades after genocide, Rwanda is flourishing—at least according to its president, Paul Kagame. New global powers like Turkey, according to Julia Harte, are helping to lift the continent out of poverty by treating Africans as partners and consumers, not merely as victims. Still, obstacles remain. Here, Fidelis Allen describes how resource extraction has left parts of the Niger Delta an oily quagmire—a cautionary tale about the need for effective environmental regulation.
This issue also features Iran’s foreign minister, speaking out against the West’s portrayal of his country; examines the euro crisis from the Greek perspective; looks at the shameful failure to control the spread of small arms across the globe; delves into the impact of a British trial on colonial legacies; investigates Pakistan’s youth; and asks whether a strategy of do-no-harm is a worthy goal for today’s leaders. For our Portfolio, Saudi photojournalist Hasan Hatrash documents the hajj, capturing the spiritual trials of this oft-misunderstood pillar of Islam.
In this edition of the Big Question, we ask our panel of global experts about the role of technology in Africa’s development. Entrepreneurs, educators, artists, and religious leaders discuss how technology has transformed their respective sectors and what role it should play in the future.
Deep beneath the varied terrains of Africa, vast groundwater reserves lie untapped. World Policy Journal maps out these subterranean water sources alongside historic drought conditions to define the scope of this resource and reveal how and where it could save lives.
Today, Emmanuel Jal is a best-selling hip-hop artist and philanthropist. But in the 1980s, Jal was a Sudanese child soldier ordered to slaughter Muslims. Here, he explains how personal sacrifice can transform nations.
Nigeria is under relentless attack from Boko Haram, a homegrown extremist militia. World Policy Journal outlines the terrorist organization’s support networks, exposing what’s needed to end Boko Haram’s brutal campaign to impose sharia law on Africa’s most populous nation.
Rwanda’s president, Paul Kagame, sits down with World Policy Journal and denies any wrongdoing in the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo, despite mounting evidence of Rwandan involvement. He spells out how his country is overcoming the scars of genocide, why Rwanda’s parliament has the highest percentage of women in the world, and how a developing nation can wean itself from foreign aid.
Why do Somalis name roads and babies after Turkey’s prime minister? No country had succeeded in helping Somalia until Turkey came along, writes Julia Harte. With its doctrine of “virtuous power,” Turkey is proving that a strategy of personal engagement—including scholarships, business-to-business contacts, and high-level political visits—can be an effective aid model. Somalia also provides Turkey a toehold in Africa, setting up the onetime heart of the Ottoman Empire to be a future player in the region.
Nigerian academic Oyenike Adeosun argues that Africa cannot afford to remain a continent of hundreds of discrete, often conflicting languages. To prosper in a globalized world, nations must embrace a single language that fosters international trade and reduces regional conflict. For those nations and their leaders about to make such a choice, he says, that language is English.
Spills have turned parts of the Niger Delta into an uninhabitable oily morass. Ponds and streams once teeming with fish are now lifeless black sludge. Fidelis Allen accuses the Nigerian government and the oil industry of ignoring environmental regulations and putting 30 million people of the Niger Delta at grave risk. Until the people of oil-producing regions gain representation in government or other forms of control over their resources, Allen argues with passion, the governments and oil companies will run roughshod over their rights.
From Mecca, photojournalist Hasan Hatrash captures the hajj of Ghazi al-Sousi on his once-in-a-lifetime pilgrimage. His images show the profound religious ceremony bringing together millions of Muslims from around the world, creating a sacred shared experience.
In a reception room of the lavish Iranian Mission to the UN, Ali Akbar Salehi, foreign minister of Iran, attacks the West’s perceptions of his nation, tells World Policy Journal his country’s nuclear program is purely civilian, and warns foreign powers not to intervene in Syria. Despite Iran’s struggling economy, Salehi claims Iranians will rally around the government until the feud between Iran and the West finally ends, which, he says, is inevitable.
A modern Greek tragedy. The managing editor of the Greek newspaper Kathimerini, Nikos Konstandaras, decries the deterioration of Greece after a series of forced austerity measures. Every time the Euro crisis got worse, he says, the EU’s response has been to underestimate the problem, waste time, talk big, and then hesitate to act. Instead of mandating a fiscal squeeze leaving many Greeks unemployed, angry, and even homeless, Konstandaras argues that the EU should oversee Greece’s federal tax collection while guaranteeing vital social services.
Embarrassingly, the United Nations has failed every year since 1946 to pass a treaty controlling the lethal traffic in small arms. Veteran New York Times editor Craig R. Whitney advances a unique, yet simple answer to this seemingly intractable issue: exclude civilian arms from any agreement and focus on the world’s real killers: AK-47s, rocket launchers, and M-16s.
Under British colonial rule, thousands of Kikuyu in Kenya were tortured, castrated, and raped. After 60 years, a British court ruled these victims may now sue Britain for damages. This case has the potential to put the entire European colonial experience on trial, and Katie Engelhart argues that this is exactly where it should be. In an of era pax juridica—and not Pax Britannica—former colonial powers could rewrite history, recognize historical wrongdoings, and compensate victims of atrocity.
Sixty-three percent of Pakistan’s population is under the age of 25. This youthful demographic will determine the outcome of the nation’s critical next election. Arsla Jawaid shows how cricket superstar-turned-philanthropist-turned-politician Imran Khan galvanized Pakistan’s youth and lays out the lessons the international community should draw from his electrifying campaign. In short, Pakistan’s young people just want—and deserve—a little respect.
There were more elections in 2012 than in any previous year. It was supposed to be a watershed year, but World Policy Journal editor David A. Andelman takes a look back and sees very little transformative change. While the best that most leaders seem able to accomplish is incremental change, he argues, this doesn’t mean they should adopt a policy that tries only to avoid making things worse. A leader’s guiding hand should be clear, firm, and in keeping with a society’s traditions.
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