Saturday, December 10, 2011

Africa Rising - a continent of hope

Africa is on a fast track out of poverty. Its astonishing growth is making it an increasingly enticing destination for global companies as northern hemisphere economies contract and stutter.

The scourges of poverty, disease and war are fast retreating and in their place is emerging a middle class with a buying power unprecedented on the continent.

"Hopeless Africa" was the title of the Economist magazine's May 11 2000 edition, which came out just after British paratroopers had been sent to evacuate British citizens and peacekeepers from Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone, as rebel forces closed in.

The latest edition is titled "Africa Rising".

Africa is the fastest-growing region in the world, and the statistics are compelling reading.

The International Monetary Fund says the continent's GDP grew on average 5.5% a year between 2000 and 2010, compared to a global average of 4.4%. The IMF predicts the economies of sub-Saharan Africa will grow by an average of 5.75% next year - after revising them downward due to the contraction in Europe and the US.

Several countries, including Botswana, Nigeria and the Republic of Congo, are likely to hit growth rates of 8% and 9%. More than 10 sub-Saharan African economies have expanded by more than 6% a year for six or more years. Ethiopia, once famine-riddled, is expected to have grown 7.5% in 2011.

The figures cited in the latest edition of the Economist are astonishing. Labour productivity is growing by about 2.7% a year, trade with the rest of the world has increased 200% in a decade, inflation has dropped from 22% in the 1990s to 8% in the past decade. Foreign debt has declined by a quarter in 10 years and budget deficits by about two-thirds. read entire story

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