Economy of Africa
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|Economy of Africa|
|GDP|| Currency: US$1.184 trillion, €1.80 trillion (2009)
PPP: US$ 2.200 trillion (2009)
|GDP growth||Per capita: 5.16% (2004–2006)|
|GDP per capita|| Currency: US$1,200, €1,000 (2009)
PPP: US$1,968, €1,500 (2009)
|Millionaires (US$)||100,000 (0.01%)|
|Income of top 10%||44.7%|
|People living less than US$1 per day||36.2%|
|External debt as a percent of GDP||60.7% (1998)
25.5% (2007) IMF
|External debt payments a as percent of GDP||4.2%
3.0% (2007) IMF
|Foreign aid revenue as a percent of GDP||3.2% (2001)|
Numbers from the UNDP and AfDB. Most numbers exclude some countries for lack of information. Since these tend to be the poorest nations, these numbers tend to have an bias. Numbers are mostly from 2002.
The economy of Africa consists of the trade, industry, agriculture, and human resources. As of 2012, approximately 1.07 billion people were living in 54 different countries. Africa is a resource-rich continent but many African people are poor. Recent growth has been due to growth in sales in commodities, services, and manufacturing.
Africa is the world's poorest inhabited continent, as measured by GDP per capita. However, parts of the continent have made significant gains over the last few years. In recent years, African countries consist of the fastest growing economies in the world.
Africa's economy was diverse, driven by extensive trade routes that developed between cities and kingdoms. Some trade routes were overland, some involved navigating rivers, still others developed around port cities. Large African empires became wealthy due to their trade networks, for example Ghana, Sudan, Asanti, and the Yoruba people.
Some parts of Africa had close trade relationships with Arab kingdoms, and by the time of the Ottoman Empire, Africans had begun converting to Islam in large numbers. This development, along with the economic potential in finding a trade route to the Indian Ocean, brought the Portuguese to sub-Saharan Africa as an imperial force in the 15th century. Christian missionary activities were supplemented by economic imperialism.
After the Scramble for Africa in the 1880s and the partitioning of the continent among European powers, the continent's former economy and trade routes were destroyed in large measure, as colonial interests created new industries to feed European appetites for goods such as palm oil, rubber, cotton, precious metals, spices and other goods. The plantation system and forced labour were the new norm.
Following the independence of African countries during the 20th century, economic, political and social upheaval consumed much of the continent. An economic rebound among some countries has been evident in recent years, however.
In the past ten years, growth in Africa has surpassed that of East Asia Data suggest parts of the continent are now experiencing fast growth, thanks to their resources and increasing political stability and 'has steadily increased levels of peacefulness since 2007'. The amount of growth that has been occurring is comparable or greater to that of the Asian Tiger, Latin Puma markets, gaining them the new nickname, the Lion Markets. The World Bank reports the economy of Sub-Saharan African countries grew at rates that match or surpass global rates.
The economies of the fastest growing African nations experienced growth significantly above the global average rates. The top nations in 2007 include Mauritania with growth at 19.8%, Angola at 17.6%, Sudan at 9.6%, Mozambique at 7.9% and Malawi at 7.8%. Other fast growers include Rwanda, Mozambique, Chad, Niger, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia. Nonetheless, growth has been dismal, negative or sluggish in many parts of Africa including Zimbabwe, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Republic of the Congo and Burundi. Many international agencies are gaining increasing interest in investing emerging African economies. especially as Africa continues to maintain high economic growth despite current global economic recession. The rate of return on investment in Africa is currently the highest in the developing world.
During 2011, Sub-Saharan economic growth was 4.9%, just shy of the pre-crisis average of 5%. Excluding South Africa, which accounts for over a third of the region’s GDP, growth in the rest of region was 5.9%, making it one of the fastest growing developing regions.
Debt relief is being addressed by some international institutions in the interests of supporting economic development in Africa. In 1996, the UN sponsored the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative, subsequently taken up by the IMF, World Bank and the African Development Fund (AfDF) in the form of the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative (MDRI). As of 2013, the initiative has given partial debt relief to 30 African countries.
Trade has driven much of the growth in Africa's economy in the early 21st century. China and India are increasingly important trade partners; 12.5% of Africa's exports are to China, and 4% are to India, which accounts for 5% of China's imports and 8% of India's. The Group of Five (Indonesia, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, and the United Arab Emirates) are another increasingly important market for Africa's exports.
Africa's economy—with expanding trade, English language skills (official in many Sub-Saharan countries), improving literacy and education, availability of splendid resources and cheaper labour force—is expected to continue to perform better into the future. Trade between Africa and China stood at $166 billion US dollars in 2011
Africa will experience a "demographic dividend" by 2035, when its young and growing labour force will have fewer children and retired people as dependents as a proportion of the population, making it more demographically comparable to the US and Europe. It is becoming a more educated labour force, with nearly half expected to have some secondary-level education by 2020. A consumer class is also emerging in Africa and is expected to keep booming. Africa has around 90 million people with household incomes exceeding $5,000, meaning that they can direct more than half of their income towards discretionary spending rather than necessities. This number could reach a projected 128 million by 2020.
The obstacles to Africa's economic growth include overall difficulties in doing business, the high HIV/AIDS adult prevalence rate, low level of innovations (except for South Africa) and violations of worker's rights.
Economic variants and indicators
After an initial rebound from the 2009 world economic crisis, Africa’s economy was undermined in the year 2011 by the Arab uprisings. The continent’s growth fell back from 5% in 2010 to 3.4% in 2011. With the recovery of North African economies and sustained improvement in other regions, growth across the continent is expected to accelerate to 4.5% in 2012 and 4.8% in 2013. Short-term problems for the world economy remain as Europe confronts its debt crisis. Commodity prices—crucial for Africa—have declined from their peak due to weaker demand and increased supply, and some could fall further. But prices are expected to remain at levels favourable for African exporter.
Economic activity has rebounded across Africa. However, the pace of recovery was uneven among groups of countries and subregions. Oil-exporting countries generally expanded more strongly than oil-importing countries. West Africa and East Africa were the two best-performing subregions in 2010.
Intra-African trade has been slowed by protectionist policies among countries and regions. Despite this, trade between countries belonging to the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), a particularly strong economic region, grew six-fold over the past decade up to 2012. Ghana and Kenya, for example, have developed markets within the region for construction materials, machinery, and finished products, quite different from the mining and agriculture products that make up the bulk of their international exports.
The African Ministers of Trade agreed in 2010 to create a Pan-Africa Free Trade Zone. This would reduce countries' tariffs on imports and increase intra-African trade, and it is hoped, the diversification of the economy overall.
|Country|| Total GDP (nominal)
| GDP per capita
|Central African Republic||2.2||816||2.8||0.384|
|Democratic Republic of the Congo||15.6||375||5.9||0.411|
|Djibouti||1.0 (2009)||2,290 (2009)||5.3||0.516|
|Libya||62.4 (2009)||16,855 (2009)||4.0||0.918|
|Réunion (France)||15.98||8,233 (nominal)||0.850 (2003)|
|São Tomé and Príncipe||0.2||2,058||5.7||0.654|
Economic sectors and industries
Because Africa’s export portfolio remains predominantly based on raw material, its export earnings are contingent on commodity price fluctuations. This exacerbates the continent’s susceptibility to external shocks and bolsters the need for export diversification. Trade in services, mainly travel and tourism, continued to rise in year 2012, underscoring the continent’s strong potential in this sphere.
The situation whereby African nations export crops to the West while millions on the continent starve has been blamed on developed countries including Japan, the European Union and the United States. These countries protect their own agricultural sectors with high import tariffs and offer subsidies to their farmers, which many contend leads the overproduction of such commodities as grain, cotton and milk. The result of this is that the global price of such products is continually reduced until Africans are unable to compete, except for cash crops that do not grow easily in a northern climate.
In recent years countries such as Brazil, which has experienced great progress in agricultural production, have agreed to share technology with Africa to greatly increase agricultural production in the continent to make it a more viable trade partner. Increased investment in African agricultural technology in general has the potential to greatly decrease poverty in Africa. The demand market for African cocoa is currently experiencing an enjoyable price boom. The South African and Ugandan governments have targeted policies to take advantage of the increased demand for certain agricultural products and plan to stimulate agricultural sectors. The African Union has plans to heavily invest in African agriculture and the situation is closely monitored by the UN.
Africa has enormous resources for generating energy in several forms (hydroelectric, reserves of petroleum and gas, coal production, uranium production, renewable energy such as solar and geothermal). The lack of development and infrastructure means that little of this potential is actually in use today. The largest consumers of electric power in Africa are South Africa, Libya, Namibia, Egypt, Tunisia, and Zimbabwe, which each consume between 1000 and 5000 KWh/m2 per person, in contrast with African states such as Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Tanzania, where electricity consumption per person is negligible.
Petroleum and petroleum products are the main export of 14 African countries. Petroleum and petroleum products accounted for a 46.6% share of Africa's total exports in 2010; the second largest export of Africa as a whole is natural gas, in its gaseous state and as liquified natural gas, accounting for a 6.3% share of Africa's exports.
Lack of infrastructure creates barriers for African businesses. Although it has many ports, a lack of supporting transportation infrastructure adds 30-40% to costs, in contrast to Asian ports. Many large infrastructure projects are underway across Africa. By far, most of these projects are in the production and transportation of electric power. Many other projects include paved highways, railways, airports, and other construction.
Telecommunications infrastructure is also a growth area in Africa. Although Internet penetration lags other continents, it has still reached 9%. As of 2011, it was estimated that 500,000,000 mobile phones of all types were in use in Africa, including 15,000,000 " smart phones".
Mining and drilling
|_||W: World||85540000||2007 est.|
|01||E: Russia||9980000||2007 est.|
|02||Ar: Saudi Arb||9200000||2008 est.|
|04||As: Libya||4725000||2008 est.||Iran|
|10||Af: Nigeria/Africa||2352000||2011 est.||Norway|
|15||Af: Algeria||2173000||2007 est.|
|16||Af: Angola||1910000||2008 est.|
|17||Af: Egypt||1845000||2007 est.|
|27||Af: Tunisia||664000||2007 est.||Australia|
|31||Af: Sudan||466100||2007 est.||Ecuador|
|33||Af: Eq.Guinea||368500||2007 est.||Vietnam|
|38||Af: DR Congo||261000||2008 est.|
|39||Af: Gabon||243900||2007 est.|
|40||Af: Sth Africa||199100||2007 est.|
|45||Af: Chad||156000||2008 est.||Germany|
|53||Af: Cameroon||87400||2008 est.||France|
|60||Af: Ivory Coast||54400||2008 est.|
|Source: CIA.gov, World Facts Book > Oil exporters.|
The mineral industry of Africa is one of the largest mineral industries in the world. Africa is the second biggest continent, with 30 million km² of land, which implies large quantities of resources. For many African countries, mineral exploration and production constitute significant parts of their economies and remain keys to future economic growth. Africa is richly endowed with mineral reserves and ranks first or second in quantity of world reserves of bauxite, cobalt, industrial diamond, phosphate rock, platinum-group metals (PGM), vermiculite, and zirconium. Gold mining is Africa's main mining resource.
African mineral reserves rank 1st or 2nd for bauxite, cobalt, diamonds, phosphate rocks, platinum-group metals (PGM), vermiculite, and zirconium. Many other minerals are also present in quantity. The 2005 share of world production from African soil is the following : bauxite 9%; aluminium 5%; chromite 44%; cobalt 57%; copper 5%; gold 21%; iron ore 4%; steel 2%; lead (Pb) 3%; manganese 39%;zinc 2%; cement 4%; natural diamond 46%; graphite 2%; phosphate rock 31%; coal 5%; mineral fuels (including coal) & petroleum 13%; uranium 16%.
Both the African Union and the United Nations have outline plans in modern years on how Africa can help itself industrialize and develop significant manufacturing sectors to levels proportional to the African economy in the 1960s with 21st-century technology. This focus on growth and diversification of manufacturing and industrial production, as well as diversification of agricultural production, has fueled hopes that the 21st century will prove to be a century of economic and technological growth for Africa. This hope coupled with the rise of new leaders in Africa in the future inspired the term "the African Century" referring to the 21st century potentially being the century when Africa's vast untapped labor, capital and resource potentials might become a world player.
This hope in manufacturing and industry is helped by the boom in communications technology and local mining industry in much of sub-Saharan Africa. Namibia has attracted industrial investments in recent years and South Africa has begun offering tax incentives to attract foreign direct investment projects in manufacturing.
Countries such as Mauritius have plans for developing new "green technology" for manufacturing. Developments such as this have huge potential to open new markets for African countries as the demand for alternative "green" and clean technology is predicted to soar in the future as global oil reserves dry up and fossil fuel-based technology becomes more economically unviable.
Investment and banking
Africa's US$107 billion financial services industry will log impressive growth for the rest of the decade as more banks target the continent's emerging middle class. While experiencing record growth, the financial sector in Africa is still inadequate to furnace the growth necessary to propel Africa into the 21st century. Due to their small size and piecemeal nature financial services are often limited in scope, more expensive, and of poorer quality than the services seen in larger, more developed economies. A small financial service sector is drastically more vulnerable to the volatile markets of today's world, particularly the resource and commodity markets. In general, African financial services are amongst the smallest and least developed in the world.
China and India have showed increasing interest in emerging African economies in the 21st century. Reciprocal investment between Africa and China increased dramatically in recent years amidst the current world financial crisis.
The increased investment in Africa by China has attracted the attention of the European Union and has provoked talks of competitive investment by the EU. Members of the African diaspora abroad, especially in the EU and the United States, have increased efforts to use their businesses to invest in Africa and encourage African investment abroad in the European economy. Remittances from the African diaspora and rising interest in investment from the West will be especially helpful for Africa's least developed and most devastated economies, such as Burundi, Togo and Comoros. Angola has announced interests in investing in the EU, Portugal in particular. South Africa has attracted increasing attention from the United States as a new frontier of investment in manufacture, financial markets and small business, as has Liberia in recent years under their new leadership.
There are two African currency unions: the West African Banque Centrale des États de l'Afrique de l'Ouest (BCEAO) and the Central African Banque des États de l'Afrique Centrale (BEAC). Both use the CFA franc as their legal tender.
As of 2012, Africa has 23 stock exchanges, twice as many as it had 20 years earlier. Nonetheless, African stock exchanges still account for less than 1% of the world's stock exchange activity. The top ten stock exchanges in Africa by stock capital are (amounts are given in millions of United States dollars):
- South Africa (828.8)
- Morocco (51.8)
- Nigeria (51.1)
- Egypt (41.6)
- Kenya (13.3)
- Tunisia (8.8)
- BRVM (regional stock exchange whose members include Benin, Burkina Faso, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo: 6.6)
- Mauritius (5.5)
- Botswana (4.3)
- Ghana (3.8)
Between 2009 and 2012, a total of 72 companies were launched on the stock exchanges of 13 African countries.
Trade blocs and multilateral organizations
The African Union is the largest international economic grouping on the continent. The confederation's goals include the creation of a free trade area, a customs union, a single market, a central bank, and a common currency (see African Monetary Union), thereby establishing economic and monetary union. The current plan is to establish an African Economic Community with a single currency by 2023. The African Investment Bank is meant to stimulate development. The AU plans also include a transitional African Monetary Fund leading to an African Central Bank. Some parties support development of an even more unified United States of Africa.
International monetary and banking unions include:
- Central Bank of West African States
- Bank of Central African States
- Common Monetary Area
Major economic unions are shown in the chart below.
| African Economic Community
|Area (km²)||Population||GDP (PPP) ($US)||Member
|in millions||per capita|
|Area (km²)||Population||GDP (PPP) ($US)||Member
|in millions||per capita|
|1 The Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) is a signatory to the AEC, but not participating in any bloc yet
2 Economic bloc inside a pillar REC
smallest value among the blocs compared
largest value among the blocs compared
During 2004. Source: CIA World Factbook 2005, IMF WEO Database
Regional economic organizations
During the 1960s, Ghanaian politician Kwame Nkrumah promoted economic and political union of African countries, with the goal of independence. Since then, objectives, and organizations, have multiplied. Recent decades have brought efforts at various degrees of regional economic integration. Trade between African states accounts for only 11% of Africa's total commerce as of 2012, around 5 times less than in Asia.
There are currently eight regional organizations that assist with economic development in Africa: