The President of Africa Development Bank, Dr. Adeshina reeled out very impressive data on Africa’s rising profile as the new frontier for global business.
He said that while business and economic cooperation between Africa and Asian countries were on the rise, the continent’s transactions with the United States have nose-dived.
“We must change the lenses with which we look at Africa, from the traditional development mindset to an investment mindset. And I agree completely with Secretary Wilbur Ross about the importance of the shift from aid to trade, to which I would add the extra insight that it should be from aid to investment. Africa is the place to be”
Africa’s exports to the US fell from an all-time high of US$113 billion in 2008 to US$26.5 billion in 2015. The continent’s exports from January to April this year have only reached US $10 billion. Similarly, US exports to Africa have also declined to US$ 22 billion from an all-time high of US$38 billion in 2014.
China has become the largest trading partner for Africa with its exports to China rising to US$67 billion, a 153% increase over those of the USA in the same year. By 2015, China’s exports to Africa were US$102 billion, while US exports were US$27 billion, or 26% of what Chinese exports to Africa.
“We must change the lenses with which we look at Africa, from the traditional development mindset to an investment mindset. And I agree completely with Secretary Wilbur Ross about the importance of the shift from aid to trade, to which I would add the extra insight that it should be from aid to investment. Africa is the place to be, so let me make the case,” Adesina said.
Adesina gave many reasons it would be in the US’s interest to re-engage with Africa, especially at a time when African economies are performing well despite the tough global economic environment.
Africa’s GDP growth rate, which averaged 2.2% in 2016, is estimated to rise to 3.4% this year, and to 4.3% in 2018 – above the global averages.
In 2016, 12 African countries recorded more than 5% while 20 others achieved growth rates ranging from 3 to 5%.
Furthermore, most of the best performing countries are the non-oil or non-commodity dependent economies such as Côte d’Ivoire which grew at 8.2%, Ethiopia at 8%, Tanzania at 7.2%, Senegal at 6.7%, and Rwanda and Kenya at 6%, respectively.
“So 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,” Adesina said.
In addition to macroeconomic stability, Africa is witnessing a spate of good governance, rising domestic demand, and increasing regional trade. African countries are also implementing economic reforms, to the point where the continent accounted for 30% of all global improvements in business and regulatory reforms in 2016.
World Bank data indicates that 34 out of 48 countries in sub Saharan Africa had at least implemented one business regulatory reform in the previous year.
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.