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Global Britain: Becoming a leader for child rights at a time of crisis

Mo Ibrahim joined leaders around the world, including Mary Robinson, Elhaji As Sy, Bob Casey and Helen Clark, to contribute his thoughts to UNICEF UK's new essay series on how Britain can use its diplomatic and financial leverage to protect and promote child rights around the world.

Mo’s piece – The Future of Africa – looks at the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in Africa and why creating opportunities for young Africans must be at the heart of recovery plans. As Mo says: 

Young citizens in Africa crave opportunities. Whether it’s in the digital economy, the green transition, resources, energy or infrastructure, Africa and Africans have a role to play. Britain shouldn’t miss out on the opportunity to make it happen. 

The piece also features in this Financial Times Special Report on Delivering for the World's Children

Below is an excerpt from Mo's essay. Read the full piece here.

In Africa, there’s never been a better time to be alive.

The last two decades have seen steady improvements in life expectancy, per capita income and access to education, to the extent that a child born in Africa today has a better chance of living longer, avoiding extreme poverty, receiving a primary school education and joining a growing economy than ever before. Given that by 2050 a third of all the world’s children will be African, this is not a minor outcome.

Yet not all the movement is in one direction. The COVID-19 pandemic is having a profound impact, forcing much of Africa into recession. While the continent’s long-term outlook for growth remains positive, and some of its most dynamic economies are surging ahead at 8% a year, too often the expansion is inconsistent, fails to create jobs and delivers benefits that don’t trickle down. Africa as an economic region may have grown in importance, but the overall picture remains patchy.