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Politics & Current Affairs

Reasons for a Little Optimism about Africa

After long wallowing in slow growth, there is cautious optimism that Africa now has a real chance to follow in the footsteps of Asia, thanks partly to the commodities boom.

What’s the Latest Development?

In the last ten years, six of the world’s ten fastest-growing countries were African. And in eight of those years, Africa grew faster than East Asia, including Japan. The commodities boom is partly responsible, as is Africa’s enthusiasm for technology, and China’s arrival has improved Africa’s infrastructure and boosted its manufacturing sector. But a key enabling factor is that Africa is at last getting a taste of peace and decent government. 

What’s the Big Idea?

Optimism about Africa needs to be taken in fairly small doses, for things are still exceedingly bleak in much of the continent. However, Africa now has a fast-growing middle class: about 60m Africans have an income of $3,000 a year and this total will rise to 100m by 2015. Autocracy, corruption and strife will not disappear overnight, but at a dark time for the world economy, Africa’s progress is a reminder of the transformative promise of growth.


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