Mixed Fortunes for Africa


In a piece titled, ‘Gbenga Sesan: Mixed Fortunes for Africa, AfricaNews posted my views on how the African continent will fare in 2008. The question was, “How will the African continent perform in 2008 in terms of economic growth, which countries and which sectors will have the best changes?” My answer was based on facts that emerged from research work that I’ve been involved with over the past four years. Feedback is welcome:

2008 will no doubt be a year of mixed fortunes for Africa, with some countries taking advantage of the focus on Africa (not neglecting the silent Sino-European competition for the continent’s attention and resources) while others will fail to see or maximize such opportunities.

Unfortunately, three indices of the category that may experience slow growth and reduction of investor interest are Political Chaos (another word may reduce the import here), Corruption and Stakeholder Fatigue. Political chaos will come from controversial election outcomes, manipulative pre-electoral processes or outright econo-political imbalance. Nations that are unable to convince the world that corruption is a serious threat, that is receiving due attention, will suffer from reduced investor excitement! Also, various stakeholders (especially private sector and civil society) may get into fatigue states in nations where their efforts are being continually frustrated.

However, these indices may slow down certain economies but other emerging opportunities will make up for the loss in some instances. Countries that combine some obvious attributes of increasingly successful (used in modest terms) economies will get global attention and may be able to convert such into economic growth. Population size (much of which must be employable for various strata of work), highly reduced remuneration compared to western economies, infrastructure presence, etc will contribute to deciding which nations enjoy better growth in 2008.

Across the continent, Nigeria, Egypt and Rwanda stand out. Considering improvement in entrepreneurial awareness among resident Nigerians and increased return of the country’s lost intellectual capacity (mostly due to strong signs of economic growth and the unbelievable stock market); Egypt’s strategic position and commitment to increased participation in the knowledge economy; and Rwanda’s undeniable focus provided from the highest political level, these nations are set for positive focus in 2008.

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