Can Africa be the new miracle economy? Professor Said Adejumobi argues that all current indicators point to Africa becoming the 'miracle economy' of the world over the next few decades. Can the continent, he asks, now claim the 21st century?

Author:Adejumobi, Said

At the beginning of the 21st century, precisely in the year 2000, the World Bank issued a report entitled: Can Africa Claim the 21st Century?

The report came amidst hope and despair. Hope because Africa was gradually getting its act together, recovering from the economic crisis of the 1980s and 1990s and posting some modest economic growth. The progress was mixed and uncertain, and no one was sure whether Africa would make it this time around.

Despair also reigned because the continent, which British author which Joseph Conrad once referred to as the "Dark Continent", had become a narrative for disaster. Afro-pessimism was alive and kicking and many, especially in the West, thought that sooner rather than later, Africa's progress will recede, and the continent would be back in its straitjacket of backwardness and underdevelopment. Over a decade into the 21s1 century, Africa is proving sceptics wrong. The continent has maintained steady economic growth rate of over 5% and African countries are some of the fastest growing economies in the world currently, with the continent projected to be the new growth pole of the 21st century.

The Economist magazine, which about a decade ago carried the cover line of Africa as a 'Hopeless Continent' is now celebrating it as a land where the 'Sun Shines Bright'. Africa's impressive economic performance has made all the difference.

As the Economist itself described it, "From Ghana in the West to Mozambique in the South, Africa's economies are consistently growing faster than those of almost any other regions of the world. At least a dozen have expanded by more than 6% a year for six or more years. Ethiopia will grow by 7.5% this year (2011), without a drop of oil to export. Once a byword for famine, it is now the world's tenth-largest producer of livestock."

Economic observers now predict that Africa will be the new 'economic miracle1 in the world in the next three decades, for three reasons. First, is its demographic structure, with a majority youth population of over 60% that will soon constitute a labour reservoir. In other words, Africa is most likely to yield what is now called demographic dividends. This is in contrast to other parts of the world, especially countries like Japan and many EU countries, with ageing populations.

The second reason is Africa's green environment, which makes make it easier for Africa to transit into green economies and for agriculture to be the fulcrum of a green...

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