I want to start by reminding us all of the profound shifts occurring in the global economy, notably the growth of developing countries in driving global economic growth. These shifts have been underway for some time and the recent global economic slowdown appears to have given greater impetus to the comparative rise of the African continent which we term – ‘Africa Rising’.
These global changes have been accompanied by significant improvements in Africa’s economic prospects. Africa is already the second fastest growing continent in the world, after Asia, and offers the highest return on investment of any region. Growth in Africa has been driven by the boom in mineral exports, as well as growth in the agriculture, transport, telecommunication and retail sectors.
Africa’s enormous reserves of raw materials, coupled with 60% of the world’s unused arable agricultural land, a young growing population, a growing middle class with considerable purchasing power, urbanisation alongside steady improvements in economic governance, are factors responsible for Africa becoming the next leading source of global economic growth.
Africa’s challenge is to move off an economic growth path built on consumption and commodity exports onto a more sustainable developmental path based on industrialisation. Africa’s on-going initiatives to advance regional integration and infrastructural development are vital in this respect.
The Africa I have grown to know is a dynamic place of entrepreneurs, opportunities, an upwardly-mobile middle class and a vibrant youth culture.
Most of the best performing countries are the non-oil or non-commodity dependent economies. Cote d’Ivoire grew at 8.2%, Ethiopia at 8%, Tanzania at 7.2%, Senegal at 6.7%, and Rwanda and Kenya at 6%, respectively. We are swimming with our heads above water. Africa is buoyant and robust. The African economies are doing better than the global average. The message is clear: African economies are resilient. They are resilient because of macroeconomic stability, good governance, rising domestic demand, and increased regional trade.
Foreign direct investment is growing in Africa. From just $2 billion in 1990, it rose to $56.2 billion in 2016, and is expected to rise to $57.5 billion this year. Africa is still the second fastest growing destination in terms of foreign direct investments.
With 60% of arable land in the world yet Africa is responsible for only 10% of the world’s agricultural produce. Right now, Africa’s biggest food problem isn’t production; it’s processing, and then, marketing. Due to inadequate processing options, 60 – 65% of harvests from farms in Africa never make it to the final consumer. However, the rising demand for food is projected to reach US$150 billion by 2030.
Africa holds more than half of the world’s renewable energy potential. There is a staggering 10 million megawatts in solar power potential in Africa and 90% of Africa’s hydropower potential is still unexploited; with the right investment clean energy is expected to double in output.
The African Development Bank estimates Africa’s fashion industry could be worth $15.5billion over the next five years.
Over $5 trillion in tourism potential stays untapped in Africa; 75 million International tourists arrived in Africa in 2015, compared to 17.4 million visitors in 1990; Kenya was recognized worldwide as the World’s Leading Safari Destination at the World Travel Awards.
According to the latest ‘Disrupt Africa’ funding Report, African ICT start-ups attracted $129 million in 2016 alone.
In Nigeria, for example, the World Bank estimates a housing deficit at over 17 million homes, that is 17 million homes that people can pay for but are unavailable.
In Lagos, one of Africa’s largest cities with a population of over 15 million people, there are less than 7 major shopping centres.
According to a study by Dataxis, there are over 100 million TV households in Sub-Saharan Africa. However, at the moment, just about 15 million of these households are pay-TV subscribers, meaning there is an underserved market of 85 million who can pay monthly for pay-TV.
With less than one cinema per million people, Africa is the most underserved cinema market in the world. Recently, a comedy drama titled “The Wedding Party” became the highest grossing African movie of all time, raking in over $1 million in less than 60 days after release. The four biggest business opportunities in this industry are in film financing, production, distribution and exhibition.
So in conclusion, the Africa I see is a continent of hope and opportunity. A continent ripe for trade and investment. A continent of the future.
I am unrepentantly convinced that the prize of a prosperous, stable Africa is within our reach if we take a strategic approach – integrating diplomacy, business, investment and commerce.
So, I make this call to action to all of us here: Seize this exciting opportunity with both hands. Go forth and invest in Africa. We welcome you!