21st Century Africa: World Economic Superpower
Contrary to popular belief, the African continent has not always been at the back of the line when it comes to global economic development. During the 15th century, the African coast lines served as commercial platforms for the international trade network. To this day, indicators point to Africa as having the possibility of becoming the engine that makes the world function, during this century.
The ground and underground of Africa have not fully showed all their secrets. Oil well exploration in the Gulf of Guinea is still in its infancy. Oil, which is the main resource from the Gulf of Guinea makes this the first region in Africa with one of the largest underwater petroleum sources in the world, which represents close to 24 million barrels of crude, or 4.5% of total worldwide reserves. In 2012, this important reserve permitted a global production in the Gulf of Guinea of 5 million barrels per day, which was mainly be exported to the United States, Europe, India and China.
From west to east, the oil producing countries include Ghana, Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon. Ghana produces 120 thousand barrels of oil per day and this resource could represent a gain of 20 billion dollars by 2030. Nigeria owns two-thirds of this resource, primarily in the offshore oil fields present in its waters. In the case of Equatorial Guinea, the discovery of an offshore oil field, and the presence of oil near the island of Bioko and that of Mbanié are factors of growth for the country. With its production of 1.1 billion barrels of reserves, representing 89% of the state budget, it happens to be the third largest oil producer in sub-Saharan Africa. Finally, Gabon is the 37th largest producer, with about 234 thousand barrels every 14 days.
Agriculture in Africa is still in its infancy. Only recently have policies been launched to exploit farm mechanization. With these modern farming techniques, Africa can certainly multiply its annual production. The cocoa and coffee plantations are aging and must be renewed. This is also one of the main reasons for the slowdown in exports of these commodities. The African soil is one amongst the best in the world of agriculture. Due to the very good weather, crops can be harvested several times within the same year. In the same vein, we can add crops such as groundnuts (peanuts), banana, plantain, and many spices (pepper Penja). Despite the large amounts of usable land available, Africans still do not hold a lot of influence on the international seasonal fruit market.
Apart from a few countries that have large herds, most African countries still find themselves importing meat (especially poultry). Yet the continent offers plenty of places for a good pasture. Especially in the equatorial regions.
Can we overlook human contribution to the development process?
This resource is both a factor of development and a major market for consumption. Africa, a continent which stood at 230 million inhabitants in 1950, surpassed 1 billion in population in 2010, could reach 2 billion in 2050 and 4 billion by 2100, which would represent more than 38% of the global population. In 1960, only two cities – Cairo and Johannesburg – surpassed 1 million inhabitants. In 2009, the “million head” megacities are now 57, against 25 a decade earlier. The five most populous cities are (in millions): Kinshasa (13.9) Cairo (12.5), Lagos (10.8), Khartoum (5.2), and Luanda (4.8).
Today one has to recognize that the literacy rate has increased over 60 years. And with the technology push, numerous Africans can, in real time, via the Internet, access knowledge from around the world. However it is necessary to capitalize on such knowledge in order to make it useful in the development of nations.
Projects are Being Launched
The trend on the continent today is a growth rate of 6%. Along with a certain possibility to increase it with various on-going projects. New real estate projects intend to absorb the difficulties related to housing that will be limited, in coming years, due to the exponential growth of the population. The largest projects underway on the continent are in the field of energy. These often consist of hydro-electric dams and reservoirs. The construction of oil rigs remain an area reserved for multinationals. In order to route any of this new energy, it will be necessary to use modern means of adapted transportation.
Hence the increasingly growing tendency to build transnational railway lines. African states develop international traffic in order to promote the free movement of people and goods. Port areas are most sought for by daily shippers of products for export and to supply the local market. The airways are not far behind. Recent years have witnessed the launch of several airlines, which compete with major international companies, at least for African destinations.
This new Eldorado attracts more than 10% of foreign investments and 5% of total world trade. The 3 huge industrial areas, Casablanca, Lagos and Nairobi, have overtaken China. Africa has become the world’s workshop and her attic. Gone is the time when 40% of crops were lost due to lack of storage or transport. The Congo Basin has emerged as the champion of the carbon market, while developing a thriving timber industry. Farmers and ranchers in West Africa work wonders. Johannesburg and Abidjan are authentic financial exchange centers. Some of these topics are are addressed in Damyo Bisamo’s latest book “Why Africa’s scary!”, which causes incredible quarrels at usually boring conferences.
Africa in 50 Years… At the Cusp of Development
Let’s make some projections. It is the year 2040, some 2 billion Africans live in peace and travel freely. Many have a regional passport. The mode of consumption for nearly 300 million of them, mostly urban, is reminiscent of the Parisians in the early 2000s, before the economic crisis and unemployment only added to digging France deeper into crisis. The growth rate since the beginning of the century, what economists call gross capital gain, increased by 800% over the entire continent. This is amazing. GDP exceeds 10,000 billion dollars (more than 8000 billion euros), only slightly less than the entire euro zone before it imploded…
Even in technology, repatriated Africans are visible. Africans who had gone abroad to study in great science centers (U.S. and India) have come back with knowledge. New teach facts:
+ mobile phones (800 million phones by 2015 for 1.2 million inhabitants);
+ countless inventions and revolutionary business models;
+ mobile banking, invented in Kenya, calls into question the power of the banks in favor of stakeholders;
+ social networks (LinkedAfrica, which could exceed LinkedIn and Viadeo within 2 to 3 years);
+ what should one say about Inye, Way-C or the Genesis tablet which may all be the successors to “apple” tablets.
Technological transfers are progressive in the field of medicine. Also large outbreaks of illnesses are now history, since the majority of viral diseases have increasingly been mastered.
It is obvious that such a potential, coupled with efforts made by African governments in terms of investing in the development of infrastructure, will position Africa as the pilot platform for global growth. However, growth will still be slowed by various political crises in the country, which we hope will fade with the advent of enlightened democracies along with a real community bond. It is now only a matter of allowing all levels of African society to reap the rewards of growth.