Africa is still fragile despite growth – Jakkie Cilliers

By Kwabena Opong

A panelist at a workshop organized by the African Union at the United Nations on Wednesday, June 26 warned that the so-called economic growth in Africa remains fragile despite the insurmountable economic growth that the continent is experiencing. From $4 trillion in 1960, Africa’s economy has ballooned to $140 trillion in 2013, Cilliers said.

Dr. Jakkie Cilliers, Executive Director of the Institute of Security Studies at Tswane in South Africa said that the picture is that of an ‘insurmountable growth, but the picture is not for the entire continent.’ He cited the population growth as the driving force in Africa’s growth even though structural change drives growth.  In 1960 Africa had only nine percent of the world’s population, but by 2026 there would be more African workers than Chinese and Indians. Much of the growth, according to Cilliers is in East and West Africa and the weight of Africa would move to the sides, as he put it. By 2049 nine of the fastest growing economies would be in Africa.

Africa’s growth, according to Dr. Cilliers faces challenges which he identified in several indices. He mentioned population structure and youth bulge; transition to democracy; levels of inclusion; bad neighborhood effect; history of interstate violence; governance issues; and poverty and violence as some of the issues that face the continent as it grows. Conflicts on the continent keep increasing creating fragmentation all over in addition to increasing poverty. “Breaking the conflict trap is the biggest challenge,” he said. The number of people living on $1.25 and less is increasing, particularly in Central Africa. All is not lost in spite of the challenges. There has been much progress, especially in peace making. “Africa leads in making peace in Africa,” he added.

Intra-African trade still lags behind external trade. Africa does 37 percent of its business with the European Union; 29 percent with the BRIC nations; 12 percent with the United States; all others $13 percent; and within the continent itself 9 percent. He urged the need for more intra-African trade.

The continent also faces challenges in environmental issues. Climate change will affect most parts of the continent badly.  Weak countries would experience conflicts and democratization would also present many challenges. There is also the need to change the productive structures of African economies.

He mentioned that growth and the future of China will continue to be important to Africa as it will continue to be a major trading partner with the continent.

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Posted by on Jul 18 2013. Filed under Community News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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