“We are now the world’s fastest growing region. There is a social and economic impact to be derived, but it needs to be done with the right approach – with African leadership and with the private sector, rather than from a charitable orientation” ? ~?Tony Elumelu
Among the words we are encouraged never to use are ?never,? and ?everybody.? However, everybody knows that Africa is the continent plagued with by far the most unfortunate labels and misconceptions. Although Africa has for the longest time been the poster child of world poverty, sickness and war, many would be intrigued to learn that it has also become the face of modern economic emergence. ?But this should come as no surprise.
While Africa does indeed have high levels of poverty that demand immediate and sustained attention, the continent also holds onto a couple of amazing achievements that many are unaware (and dare we say, choose to remain unaware) of. For example, the continent convincingly claims seven out of the available ten spots on the International Monetary Fund?s list of the world?s fastest growing economies. With the exceptions of China, India, and Vietnam, African nations comprise every other spot on the fastest growing club?s roster.
The African middle class is emerging too. ?No longer is Africa uniformly blanketed with poverty, with a few well to do individuals sprinkled amidst them. In the new turn of things, the entire middle class is expanding, growing and emerging. Ostentatious consumer choices seem to be a measure of rising middle class affluence. A study by McKinsey estimates that there will be a variety of shopping choices for the emerging middle class populace. Not only will the basic necessities of life, such as food and water be in demand, but Africans will spend increasingly larger sums on consumer goods. Also the same McKinsey report suggests that economic growth in Africa will see millions rise out of poverty as average wages rise and many engage in entrepreneurial pursuits.
This is not to say that Africa?s problems are all over and its rise to world power is now inevitable and unhampered. No. While Africa continues to grow in its metrics, there still remain a large number of stumbling blocks across its path hindering its further development. The infrastructure is still largely inadequate and in many places, subpar. An exception to this is the African mobile phone network, which in itself is a product of the emerging middle class. It has seen enormous growth within the last and present decade, and is projected to see growth until there is upwards of one phone per every African.
With this influx of encouraging news, now would be a great time for Africans (and non-Africans!) to begin to put aside their low expectations of the continent. For those who have simply accepted that Africa will perpetually be a poster child of underdevelopment and other world ills, you can now be assured that this is indeed not the case. ?We should now begin to raise our views of what we can expect Africa to deliver in the near future. After all, Africa is as a whole the world?s fastest growing economy.
Never say never.
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