Despite the history of economic and political disparity, the African continent does have much to be positive about
By Lotus Felix
Our Times Editor, Lotus FelixEven with the number of problems Africa has been struggling with over the last many years, it would be wrong to ignore the positives about the continent. In face of all the challenges, Africa as a continent has been making significant growth cutting across the economy, through leadership down to even the infamous corruption fight. The recent house arrest of Zimbabwe’s infamous dictator, Robert Mugabe is a perfect example of this.
In Sub Saharan Africa, the economic rebound has been impressive. Observation from Africa’s Pulse shows that back in 2016, the sub-Saharan region of Africa recorded the most worrisome collapses in their economy. But 2017 has been a positive deviation from the decline.
Recovery has been swift and encouraging, with economic growth expected to peak as far as 2.6% in 2017. Also, countries like Nigeria, Angola, and South Africa are enjoying spells of recovery as well. In the Nigerian case, the nation had escaped a catastrophic period of recession engineered by explosive economic packages in face of crashing petroleum prices.
In recent years, about seven African countries, including Tanzania, Senegal, Rwanda and Ethiopia have enjoyed a long swathe of economic stability and sustainable job creation. These nations have put forward annual growth rates across the last two years beating 5.4%, which is more than a little impressive.
Another, even better example, is in Northern Africa. Back in 2011 the region was plagued with high unemployment. But by 2015, North Africa recorded a 12.5% yearly growth from the lows of 2011. Such economic growth is expected to spread into 2018, as it is anticipated the continent in its entirety could achieve growth of 3.2% in 2018 and 3.5% in 2019. Infrastructural revival is largely expected in African countries in line with this economic advancements and should, in time, provide industrial expansion which would further differentiate from the continent’s over-reliance on commodity exports.
Poverty figures are sliding down for the continent. In general, the whole of Africa is getting less embroiled in political violence. As stability in government creeps back, recent economic advances are expected to translate into improved means of sustenance. From the current economic alleviation and lessening poverty, it is expected that poverty is largely expected to have fallen by 17% in the continent by 2030. This is in stark contrast to figures from 2007 when 52% of Africans were calculated to survive under $1.25 every day.
Africa’s growth has also spread into improvements in leadership as well. African democracies are strengthening up institutionally. Very rare democratic victories were recorded in Nigeria where an incumbent president was defeated in elections and handed power over peacefully. The continent also came together to compel Yahya Jammeh of Gambia to relinquish power when he lost the polls. In Kenya, the judiciary boldly annulled election results in an unprecedented show of democratic germination.
The continent is also battling corruption successfully and in Nigeria alone, the EFCC (Economic and Financial Crime Commission) has recovered over $2 trillion in loots over the last 12 years.
Africa now needs to sustain this growth and build vehemently upon it. The necessary reforms have to be installed to durably facilitate these successes. Such need for sustainability is echoed in the words of Albert G. Zeufack, World Bank Chief Economist for the Africa Region, who said, “As countries move towards fiscal adjustment, we need to protect the right conditions for investment so that Sub-Saharan African countries achieve a more robust recovery. We need to implement reforms that increase the productivity of African workers and create a stable macroeconomic environment. Better and more productive jobs are instrumental to tackling poverty on the continent.”
With all the above in mind, Africa still has a long way to go. The below video from CGTN Africa provides additional information in this regard.
Africa is a massive continent of 1.22 billion inhabitants. The various countries and regions of the continent are nuanced in politics, resources and economies. This of course makes it hard to generalize the overall economic landscape. That said, the statistics provided above are reason to be positive with the economic trends of the continent. We can only hope to see these trends to continue in the future.