For the longest time I've been meaning to pen my thoughts on the phenomenon of country after country in Africa celebrating their 50th Anniversary of Independence. It has been close to two years now that I've been residing in Cotonou, a port city in a country called Benin in West Africa. Benin celebrated it's 50th Anniversary of Independence from France on the 1st of August 2010. No less than fourteen countries ceased to be French colonies in 1960.The very same year,Belgian Congo became the independent republic of Zaire , and Somalia and Nigeria ceased to be part of the British Raj. With a billion plus inhabitants, massively well endowed with mineral resources and agricultural potential, and increasingly better governance, Africa is clearly the next big thing. May I humbly be the first to submit that Africa and its Billion be compared favourably in terms of its potential growth story with the other two billions that every commentator/wise ass with an opinion tirelessly fails to talk about viz. India and China. With abundant land, adequate water resources and more than adequate mineral resources (I'm reasonably confident that on a per capita basis Africa scores comfortably over India and China on each of these parameters) all Africa needs to be the next engine of world economic growth is access to good education and effective governance. On both these counts, I'm optimistic and believe that things are only improving.
Already in terms of GDP growth rate , African countries rank right up there. Have a look at the World GDP growth Rate comparison Map.Of the 54 recognized states that comprise Africa no less than 39 States figure in the top 100 fastest growing economies of the World ( Real GDP growth). Ethiopia one of the fastest growing GDPs in Africa clocks in at a nifty 5th , just ahead of India's 6th place and just behind China's 4th place. While South Africa remains the largest GDP in both real and PPP terms; countries like Egypt, Nigeria, Algeria aren't too far behind. All of these are vibrant and dynamic economies (South Africa included). Nigeria for example, with it's large population is an economy that drives or at the very least indirectly boosts the economy of several neighbouring countries like Benin, Niger, Cameroon,etc.
So the economic future of Africa, but for the rascally of its political classes, is well and truly something to watch out for.
The questions that go begging then, at this stage of the discussion, are quite clearly-What is the political scenario in these economies? How do they fare in terms of Governance? What is the score on poverty alleviance? How thus far, have governments here fared on social welfare metrics and indeed, on health care?
Answering these questions will surely deserve a more involved and better researched post than this one,but, for the moment , let me cap this article by coining an acronym rather akin to the famous BRICS but with fewer letters , it's one that's already familiar albeit in a different sphere but one that to my mind bears an important guiding light to the future of the world economy.
That acronym is CIA - or China, India and Africa. This is the new CIA of shifting world economic power. If this century is storied as the Asian Century, then barring human annihilation I can safely wager my all without an ounce of doubt that the next century will be the African Century.
Maybe CARIBINS to include Brazil, Russia, Indonesia & South Africa ? Dunno..but this is going to surely have more follow up posts that's a promise!!