The Future of Africa
Recently, the priorities of the foreign policy of the great powers started including the African states, namely the ones located in the sub-Saharan region. The primary reason for such interest is strategic resources, which fuel the competition between the leaders of the modern world. As a result, the continent becomes actively involved in the global economy, gaining weight on the international scene. Naturally, under such conditions, the way of development it may choose in the following decades is likely to affect the entire world, which would result in the need for the analysis of the factors that may influence its course. Therefore, the following work focuses on the review of both positive and negative scenarios for the future of Africa.
From the optimistic point of view, the future of Africa may be similar to that of such Asian states as Taiwan, Singapore, and South Korea, which demonstrated high rates of economic development during the second half of the 20th century. In particular, over the past decade, the economy of African countries has been growing at an unprecedented pace in spite of the global financial crisis. Although many years of such growth are needed for the significant improvement of the economic situation on the continent, its potential can be viewed with growing optimism, namely due to the poverty reduction. It is expected that the proportion of the population living on less than $1.25 a day will have decreased from the current 44% to 33% by 2060. Moreover, Africa has an abundance of natural resources and is the youngest continent in the world when it comes to the proportion of young people in the total population. Therefore, in case of investment in youths and the economic and social infrastructure needed for the continent’s growth, the African economy can become one of the most dynamic and productive in the world.
Additionally, the increasing consumption in the states of sub-Saharan Africa is a sign of the economic growth. In turn, the global business tends to focus not only on the natural resources of the continent but also the rapidly growing army of African buyers and workforce. As a result, the foreign investment is likely to increase, reaching a record sum of $80 billion. Moreover, a considerable part of this money will go to the production sector rather than the extraction of raw materials. Thus, Africa is developing, but its growth is extremely uneven and sometimes even contradictory. In this regard, it is possible to provide an example of Nigeria. Despite the unstable internal environment, it outperformed South Africa and became the leading African economy. It should be noted that the GDP evaluation system of Nigeria was labeled outdated and required refinement. This fact has allowed South Africa, despite the lower population, to become the largest economy on the continent. Prior to the adjustment, the calculations were based on the year 1990, which was replaced by the years 2010 and 2011. This change was significant since growth is normally evaluated depending on changes in the value of the individual sectors of the economy compared to the base year. During the past two decades, the country’s economic system changed considerably due to the emergence of new sectors, such as mobile telecoms, which are rapidly evolving. Even the movie industry now plays an important role in the Nigerian economy. After the re-evaluation, it turned out that the total GDP of Nigeria is 75% higher than the original estimate. Instead of $262 billion, the country has produced goods and services equaling to almost $452 billion. It is also possible to note that of all of the twenty-five major African brands, except the Kenyan Safaricom, are either Nigerian or South African.
At the same time, when it comes to GDP per capita, South Africa remains the leader while the figures of Nigeria ($2.7 thousand) cannot be perceived as outstanding. However, one can point out the stability of the Nigerian economy, high population growth rates, and the country’s early phase of market development as the possible factors that may strengthen its position on the international economic arena. It is clear that the demand for goods and services within the country will be strong in the coming years. Against such background, the international investors increasingly focus on Nigeria. During the years 2012 and 2013, the country has been ranked first among the states located in sub-Saharan Africa in terms of the volume of portfolio investment.
Many of the factors presented above characterize the other African countries, including Kenya, Mozambique, Rwanda, and Malawi. Moreover, the external changes favorably affect the financial markets of the continent. Despite a series of terrorist attacks in Kenya in 2014, the country’s Finance Ministry has managed to sell bonds for $2 billion, breaking the African record. Earlier, Zambia has sold bonds for $1 billion, becoming the first state in Africa to do so after deficit jump. Exports from the countries of sub-Saharan Africa increased from $68 billion in 1995 to more than $400 billion in 2012. About $300 billion accounts for the exports of natural resources, but unlike the past years, one can observe a significant share of the income generated by other sectors of the industry. According to the African Development Bank (ADB), in 2010, the share of the middle class in Africa rose to 350 million people against 126 million in 1980. However, it should be noted that the middle classes in the United States and, for example, Congo, are quite different. In African countries, this category consists of people who earn more than $2 per day. Nevertheless, the improvement of the financial well-being of the population is undeniable.
Finally, Africa and innovations are not incompatible anymore as it was around thirty years ago. According to the report by INSEAD, many countries in the sub-Saharan region are going through this process using various initiatives and programs, holding a record in the amount of the so-called innovation achievers. In particular, such states as Kenya, Malawi, and Uganda contributed to the success of the area as a whole, allowing it to be on par with Central and Southern Asia. In turn, it became easier to establish business in Africa, which contributed to the development of the country and, therefore, its bright future. Thus, given all the provided facts, one can assume that the future of the continent is likely to be prosperous as its attractiveness for the investors continues to grow, together with its economic potential. In other words, the South Korean or Singaporean scenario is quite possible for Africa.
At the same time, from the pessimistic point of view, the described advantages may not be relevant due to the low level of political stability in the region. In particular, currently, Africa suffers from countless conflicts that often result in separatism, which changes its political map. For example, Somalia was divided into several parts in 2003. During that year, the population of its northern part passed a referendum, where the majority of people supported the creation of the independent country named Somaliland. Another state, Maakhir, proclaimed its sovereignty in 2007, to be absorbed by Puntland in 2009. Currently, the region is highly unstable, which prevents its development.
The example of Somalia is not an exception. At the beginning of 2011, Sudan has also been divided, with the southern part of the country becoming a separate state of South Sudan. The primary reasons for such separation were as follows: the northern Sudan was among the strongholds of Islamism, including the country’s government, the members of which included the perpetrators of crimes against humanity, being explicitly sympathetic to Iran. On the other hand, the southern part of the country did not support this religion and opposed the Islamization policy, which resulted in the civil war. Thus, the plebiscite was the way of ending the conflict. At the same time, this event became an important precedent for Africa, meaning that the other countries might follow the footsteps of South Sudan. Moreover, the division of the state is yet to be finished. In fact, Darfur refuses to obey the authorities; the carnage in the region stopped only after the intervention of the peacekeepers. Moreover, the eastern Sudanese tribes also created a military-political organization, proclaiming the establishment of an independent state. Naturally, such events do not contribute to the economic and political stability of Africa.
Currently, many of the African countries suffer from separatism, including Algeria, Angola, Equatorial Guinea, Namibia, and many others. In general, the beginning of the 21st century is characterized by the dissolution of the existing borders between them, sometimes due to the neocolonialism of the global powers. Currently, there is a scramble for the lands rich in natural resources, as well as those having a strategic value. The support for separatists becomes an efficient instrument for establishing the control over the African states, dividing them into several parts that will not be capable of resisting. Moreover, it is easier to ensure stability and protection of borders on a smaller territory, as well as provide relatively high standards of living thus lowering the risk of revolt. However, it is difficult to expect a stable situation in the short-term perspective. During the process of the secondary colonization of Africa, the situation is likely to change significantly. In particular, in case of the domination of the economically advanced countries of the West and East over Africa, the existing borders will lose their meaning. In turn, the large quasi-states will be formed, becoming the property of the developed countries. Naturally, such a scenario will result in the loss of independence for the majority of African countries, which makes it possible to perceive it as a negative outcome.
The future of Africa as a whole cannot be viewed unambiguously due to the presence of factors that both hinder and promote its development. On the one hand, the economic potential of the continent is quite high, which in combination with the considerable supply of valuable resources makes it attractive for the trade partners and investors. Moreover, the states of the sub-Saharan region demonstrate consistent growth and innovative activity. At the same time, low political stability and separatism prevent Africa from flourishing. The constant changes in its political map, as well as the neocolonial policy, provide the conditions for the creation of the so-called puppet states, which cannot be considered a bright future. Thus, for the optimistic scenario to become a reality, it is imperative that the listed issues are addressed through the joint efforts of Africa and the global community.