Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Africa the next BRIC

Sub Saharan Africa can be the next BRIC; from 2000 to 2010 Sub Sahara grew at a faster rate, in nominal dollars terms, than both India and China and is predicted by the IMF to grow at a faster rate than Brazil between 2010 – 2015.

Sub Sahara has much going for it and conditions are improving constantly. Between 2002 and 2008 the continent achieved a growth rate of 5.2% a year on average, and only dropped a single percentage point since the global economic crisis – still a higher rate than the developed world is expected to achieve.

Africa’s population had grown to 820 million in 2008, and the percentage that can be considered ‘middle class’ has grown astronomically since the 1990s. Africa is now both ready to take its place as a market of consumers for global products and as an attractive investment destination for global business looking for new opportunities. I would suggest Commonwealth countries to potential investors as they make up 17 of the top 20 places to do business in Africa, according to the IFC.

To achieve this jump, to become the 5th BRIC, Africa needs to deal with a number of persistent issues such as the infrastructure and power deficit, increasing access and the quality of Education and enhancing business competitiveness, these will have to be achieved along with progress on democratization and good governance. To succeed on both economic development and good governance simultaneously African will need more strong and dynamic leaders. Rwanda and President Kagame are a case in point; it is unfortunate to see the international media running negative stories about one of Africa’s best success stories.

Paul Kagame has been one of the most ambitious and successful African leaders in fighting poverty and driving growth in his country. This year the IFC named Rwanda the best business reformer in the World, likewise Paul Kagame is recognised by many western leaders as one of Africa’s Best, Tony Blair described him as ‘visionary’ a sentiment I agree with.

While there are concerns about the current election in the Rwanda, we must not forget the impact that Kagame has made on the development of his country. Democracy is hugely important but it will not be achieved without economic development, democracy on empty stomachs will not succeed –this needs to be more widely recognised.

While raising the issue of Human rights, we should be supporting leaders like Paul Kagame that are driving progress in their countries and the continent. Africa is also making progress on democratisation, Kenya’s recent peaceful referendum that aimed the settle the country’s political disputed is a good example. These stories and there like should be the ones that the international media focus on as Africa strives to become a BRIC. A more balanced approached to reporting on the continent, that helps encourage Africans, will benefit us all in the end.

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