Africa Should Celebrate Economic Growth News With Caution

Published on 16th April 2013

The news by the World Bank that over the next three years, sub-Saharan Africa’s economic growth could accelerate to more than 5 per cent reaching $54 billion by 2015, compared to $37.7 billion in 2012 is encouraging. The bank forecasts that the growth is bound to outpace the global average over the next three years.

Africa ought to use the increasing international confidence to strategically participate  in global affairs for the benefit of her citizenry. The positive forecast should however not plunge the continent into the “feel good” trap as it has a lot of work to do. Resource-rich countries such as Equatorial Guinea, Nigeria and Gabon, for example, are making less progress in combating poverty than other African countries with fewer natural resources. Labour unrest in South Africa, political unrest in the Central African Republic, Mali and Togo, the crisis in the Eurozone and unforeseen downturn in demand for commodities from China are potential concerns.

As long as the continent is dependent on imported farm technologies, watches as its vast tracks of agricultural land are grabbed by ‘investors,’ imports around 70% of its pharmaceutical needs from abroad in spite of carrying 25% of the world’s diseases, spends more money servicing its external debt than it spends on infrastructural development, exports raw material and imports finished products, thrives on the culture of consumption as opposed to production and curtails intra-Africa trade through heavy tariffs, the growth may not trickle down to the ordinary citizen.

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