Tuesday, June 14, 2011
The African Miracle
Not so long ago, the world lamented its broken continent. "The state of Africa is a scar on the conscience of the world," declared British Prime Minister Tony Blair in 2001 -- and his was a common refrain. Civil war, economic stagnation, and a high disease burden seemed irreversible, condemning the region to perpetual poverty.
A decade later, however, Africa has outgrown the gloom and doom. Far from the misery-stricken place so often portrayed, Africa today is alive with rising urban centers, a growing consumer class, and sizzling business deals. It's a land of opportunity.
Africa, in fact, is now one of the world's fastest-growing economic regions. Between 2000 and 2008, the continent's collective GDP grew at 4.9 percent per year -- twice as fast as in the preceding two decades. By 2008, that put Africa's economic output at $1.6 trillion, roughly on par with Russia and Brazil. Africa was one of only two regions -- Asia being the other -- where GDP rose during 2009's global recession. And revenues from natural resources, the old foundation of Africa's economy, directly accounted for just 24 percent of growth during the last decade; the rest came from other booming sectors, such as finance, retail, agriculture, and telecommunications. Not every country in Africa is resource rich, yet GDP growth accelerated almost everywhere. READ MORE