For many decades, Africa was the hopeless land. In the late 1980s, one would think of the continent picturing a starving orphan child in a refugee camp or an AIDS patient lingering on a hospital’s bed. Yet today it seems that we imagine Africa by thinking about booming cities with crazy traffic and loads of business opportunities. Mozambique is in this aspect a great example, rising from one of the poorest countries in the world to one that has a 7.5% annual growth rate.
Today Africa is the world’s fastest growing continent and recently, the World Bank reported that “Africa could be on the brink of an economic take-off, much like China was 30 years ago”. It is time for us to recognise the emergence of a new Africa.Yet, indisputably, there are huge obstacles for a bright and shinny future. Of the 20 least competitive countries in the world, 14 are African. More than 50% of total African exports are on minerals, which bring an immense vulnerability to the economy. Indeed, as the OECD reported, a one percentage point decline in the GDP of OECD member countries causes Africa’s export earnings to decline by about 10%. There is thus an over dependency on commodities that could really hit the continent’s stability.
Bottom line? Africa disposes of an immense and enviable potential. It will growth. It will witness loads of wealth creation in the next fifty years. The question is if its people are going to profit from it. As Fareed Zakaria points out in this video, “if Africans get the right access to education, healthcare, good governance and jobs, Africa will be a power house. If not, the population growth is a curse, not a blessing”.