Africa has long been viewed as a continent of untapped potential. Now favorable demographic and economic trends are attracting an influx of foreign investment, pointing toward a new era in its development, say Jason Kerr and Rebecca Campbell, partners at White & Case.
Famously branded “the hopeless continent” by The Economist just over a decade ago, Africa has so belied downbeat projections that in March 2013 the same magazine published a special report with the opposite sentiment, titled “Africa rising”.
The continent grew on average 5.5 percent a year over the past decade, and GDP is expected to rise by an average of 6 percent a year in the next decade, according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).
Some economists are even more positive about Africa’s prospects. Charles Robertson, global chief economist at Renaissance Capital, for example, forecasts that its economy will grow from US$2 trillion today to US$29 trillion by 2050.
Concerted efforts by African and international leaders have created this brighter outlook. Overly debt-laden nations have seen their burdens reduced as a result of improved relations with the international community. Africa’s shift toward middle-income status and urbanization has come at the same time as increasing investment in education, healthcare and infrastructure. Foreign direct investment (FDI) is playing a major role, too.
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