C&B Notes

Growth in Middle Africa

According to the International Monetary Fund, Sub-Saharan Africa will be the fastest-growing region in the world, after developing Asia, this year and in 2012. Stability remains a real issue to investment in Africa, but the opportunity is enormous and tailwinds are strong.  An agricultural revolution, confidence in the rule of law, and foreign direct investment in natural resources IF they come together could propel many Middle African countries to rapid growth over the next two decades.  More national and regional stability could result in more outside investment and opportunity for jobs and growth.

“Six of the 20 projected fastest-growing countries this year are in Africa. Among them are Ghana, at 13.7 percent; Ethiopia, at 8.5 percent; Angola, at 7.8 percent; and Mozambique, at 7.5 percent, the IMF says. A move toward freer economies helped ignite the boom. In the past decade, leaders in Nigeria, Ghana and Rwanda have sold state-owned industries, cut inflation and budgeted more cautiously. Those shifts encouraged the Group of Eight nations to agree in 2005 to let the World Bank, the IMF and the African Development Bank cancel the debts of some poor countries provided they met certain economic goals.

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“By 2015, 221 million African consumers will advance from destitution to basic-needs status, making from $1,000 to $5,000 a year, according to a McKinsey & Co. analysis of data from IHS Global Insight, a subsidiary of Englewood, Colorado-based data provider IHS Inc.  There’s more prosperity to come, says Arnold Ekpe, chief executive officer of Ecobank, which has expanded into 32 of Africa’s 53 countries from its base in Lome, the capital of French-speaking Togo. “Middle Africa is the fastest-growing part of Africa, and it’s also some of the richest parts of Africa,” Ekpe says. “That’s where the oil, the diamonds, the iron ore and the gold are.” The 32 countries in Middle Africa as defined by Ekpe are together expected to grow 6.5 percent in 2011, based on a weighted average derived by Bloomberg from IMF statistics.”

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