Rising Africa: 'Lion economies' are starting to roar
Share with others:
Both Africa's economic performance and political stability are showing an uptick after years of relative notoriety.
The International Monetary Fund shows 6 percent growth for Africa in 2011 and projects another nearly 6 percent for 2012 as well. Six of the world's 10 fastest-growing economies have been African over eight of the last 10 years. African productivity has been growing at 3 percent per year, as opposed to 2.3 percent for the United States.
The continent's 1 billion population, still a largely undeveloped market, offers significant potential to investors and exporters. The growth of what some analysts are beginning to call Africa's "lion economies" are still about a third dependent on export commodities such as coltan, copper, diamonds, gold and oil, but light industry and services are growing in importance.
Africa's trade continues to shift from the ex-colonial powers to Brazil, Russia, India and China -- the BRIC countries -- which now account for 20 percent of its 54 countries' commerce.
Political instability continues to have an important effect on African prospects for economic improvement. There are still ghastly spots of warfare on the continent that render some countries human rights catastrophes as well as centers of exemplary corruption. In that category are clearly Zimbabwe, Somalia and the new South Sudan. Egypt and Libya are now on the list of countries of concern as the Arab Spring proceeds in North Africa.
Perhaps the most interesting political situations in Africa at the moment are two possible sticks of dynamite that haven't exploded. Both Liberia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo held shaky elections this fall. There was major concern in both cases that electorates would not accept results that were subject to doubt.
Liberians reelected Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. Other opponents claimed fraud but, so far, events in Liberia after the elections have proceeded smoothly by comparison to what Liberia's violent recent history might have suggested.
The DRC's elections in November produced a victory for incumbent president Joseph Kabila as well, but again with charges of fraud and even one defeated candidate who has had himself installed as rival president. But the place -- like Liberia -- hasn't blown up. There is thus some suggestion that both Liberians and Congolese have finally grown weary of the pointless violence which severely damages prospects for economic development.
These circumstances, if they prevail, offer hints of a possibly brighter future for a traditionally economically and politically blighted modern Africa.
First Published December 27, 2011 12:00 am