[BLOG] Expanding Africa’s growth frontier
In the last decade, Africa has been on the brink of a major transformation, with six of the world’s 10 fastest growing economies coming from the continent, and the number is expected to rise to seven in the five years to 2015, according to a projection by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). This projection is coming at a time when the rest of the world is confronted with political and economic challenges.
Despite the global economic turmoil, the continent’s economy bounced back fast, in comparison with developed nations that are struggling to recover. While the World Bank forecasted Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth for sub-Saharan Africa to be 5.3 percent for 2012 and 5.6 percent for 2013, higher than the 4.9 percent for 2011, the IMF estimated a growth rate for the region at 5.5 percent for 2012.
As Africa’s economic prospects make it an attractive investment frontier, economic and financial experts continue to decry a plethora of problems facing the continent. For example, there is high level of corruption among political office holders, weak political and economic institutions, ethno-religious violence, wide infrastructural gap, widespread poverty, and youth unemployment. Hunger, drought, low access to quality education, and high maternal mortality still stare the continent in the face, as lack of integration and barriers to trade among African countries continue to be hindrance to growth in the region.
As leaders from business, government, civil society, academia, media and the arts from over 70 countries met recently at the 22nd World Economic Forum (WEF) on Africa at Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to seek ways to accelerate investment in frontier markets and scale innovation for shared opportunities in Africa, we believe that changes need to be made to fast-track growth in the continent. To this end, there is need to diversify the economic base of Africa. African leaders should leverage on the deliberations and outcomes of the conference to bring about real change so that the continent will be in a vantage position to reap the full comparative advantage.
While we share the sentiments of economists that Africa’s projected growth rate will be driven this year by improved macroeconomic and political stability, we believe that deepening links to fast growing emerging economies and an increasing appetite of global and regional champions for long-term investments in Africa’s frontier markets will fuel renewed optimism of the continent’s future. Attaining Africa’s aspirations in a new global context will require bold and actionable ideas, as well as strong leadership on regional, national and industry levels.
Also, it is high time Africa began to look inwards to fashion out its own peculiar development strategy as it integrates further into the globalised economy. The continent has great lessons to learn from China – by adopting its own home-grown policies. It is this inward economic agenda that has helped the Asian nation to transit from a third world country to the fastest-growing economy in the world. It is therefore pertinent that the continent rides on the current growth trajectory to launch itself into the take-off stage of development.
This article was originally posted on Sustainable Development Africa Platform