For Africa, the 1990s heralded a crucial break from the grim ‘lost decade’ of the 1980s. In recent years, the African continent has undergone a remarkable political and economic transformation. Even though the continent is still faced with governance and development challenges, it is a far better place today than it was twenty years ago.
For one thing, Africa is by and large more politically stable today. Several civil wars, such as those in Angola, Rwanda, Sierra Leone and Mozambique, have ended and the number of inter-state conflicts has declined. Many African countries, including Liberia and Tanzania, have made appreciable progress in terms of improving governance and combating corruption. Other countries, such as Algeria, Niger and Sierra Leone, have shown marked improvements in strengthening the rule of law and in promoting government accountability.
The increasingly stable political environment across the African continent has coincided with an improving business climate. Over the past few years, a number of African states have implemented business-friendly reforms. In 2008, four African states – Botswana, Burkina Faso, Egypt and Senegal – were identified by the World Bank as among the top ten business regulation reformers in the world. These success stories have been emulated elsewhere on the continent. For example, until recently Rwanda had no commercial courts. This meant that disputes had to be resolved through the normal judicial system and the courts had to contend with a seven-year backlog of 3,000 cases.