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A Women carries fire wood on her head as she walks below Eskom's Elecricity pylons in Soweto, South Africa. August 8,2016. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko - RTSMORN
Africa in focus

Foresight Africa: Join the conversation on the top priorities for Africa in 2017

Amadou Sy

Today, the Brookings Africa Growth Initiative (AGI) launches its annual Foresight Africa publication. 

In the 2017 edition, AGI scholars and invited experts delve deeply into six overarching themes that provide opportunities for Africa to overcome obstacles blocking fruitful and inclusive growth. Through this exploration, we hope to bring into focus a holistic view of the continent, emphasizing that with each challenge there is a solution, though it might be found where we least expect it.

Given the region’s credit downgrades and lowered growth outlooks, our authors focus on financing for development for oil exporters and explore several different mechanisms for financing widening fiscal and current account deficits as well as development agendas, such as increased domestic revenue mobilization and economic diversification. Economic growth in 2017 and beyond will not be possible without job creation, especially with the upcoming population boom. For this reason, our authors examine not only job prospects for Africans going into 2017, but new ways to think about job creation. Another source of growth in sub-Saharan Africa has been through the transformative power of technology, and so our authors discuss how obstacles to innovation can be overcome for Africa to reach its full potential. Importantly, for the second year in a row, our contributors cover the increasingly important topic of urbanization. Smart urban planningincluding navigating energy needs, transportation possibilities, pollution potential, safety, informal settlements, and affordability—can help Africa become a leader in smart cities. Africa has also been a leader in the fight against climate change. Given Africa is expected to bear the brunt of its destructive effects, our authors offer thoughts on policies for combating climate change in light of Africa’s unique circumstances.

To tie everything together, of course, are policymakers, who have the power to create incentives for job creation, enact laws to combat climate change, create appropriate regulatory environments for innovation, and stabilize the macroeconomic environment. However, as our authors argue, without good governance and respect for the rule of law, countries and their citizens must fight an even-more uphill battle towards inclusive growth.

Each Foresight Africa 2017 chapter not only includes an issue brief examining a major theme, but also features viewpoint contributions from African and international policymakers and shakers with solid experience on the ground. Featured figures, tables, and other graphics further illustrate how much the region has accomplished and offer signs as to which priorities matter most for the continent in 2017.

Our goal is to offer a primer for engaging in a global conversation on Africa that brings in perspectives from the region, the United States, and elsewhere. We hope you will engage with us in this conversation by commenting on our Foresight Africa papers, blogs and graphics, and by telling us what you think are the top priorities for Africa in 2017. You can use #ForesightAfrica and follow the debate or send your thoughts to @BrookingsGlobal or @ASYBrookings to join the conversation on Twitter. You can also leave us a comment on our related blog posts or on our Facebook page.

We hope you can join us on January 12 for our launch event.

We will be following up on our papers and post additional contributions from other experts on the Africa in Focus blog, so we invite you to continue the dialogue throughout 2017.

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