Atlantic Council Board Director Ahmed Charai writes for The Hill on the importance of the upcoming elections on the African continent:

Much of the world’s great promise, and many of the world’s greatest challenges, lie in Africa. The continent is home, on the one hand, to seven of the 10 fastest growing economies on the planet, and has the potential to anchor global wealth production for decades to come. At the same time, parts of it remain home to intractable civil conflict and burgeoning jihadism—threats to the world of a magnitude on par with the continent’s opportunities. Poverty, so deep across its vast expanse, continues to grow even as a narrow band of elites grows even richer. And the struggle of Africa’s poor is no longer confined to African territory: Abject poverty spurs economic migration, posing immense demographic pressures on Europe and North America.

Scan the continent’s 54 states and a clear pattern emerges: The brightest spots on the map lie in the expanding number of African countries that have set out on a democratic path. Free and fair elections and orderly rotations of power have become the norm in Senegal, Ghana, and other countries. And in Nigeria, home to the largest population in Africa, a certified and transparent electoral process has led to the first-ever peaceful turnover of power in the country’s postcolonial history. In every case thus far, democracy’s success has been a boon not just for a privileged few, but for the majority of the country’s population. Meanwhile, the enduring dictatorships, from Zimbabwe to the Gambia, are like an axis of regression, snaking across the continent. Yet in every country, the yearning for a better future runs deep, and young people who have only lived under autocratic rule are waging peaceful struggles for their political and economic rights.

Read the full article here.

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