Africa: A Look into the Future

Author:Natalie Ramírez-Djumena
Position:Prepared by . Based on Africa in 50 Years’ Time: The Road Towards Inclusive Growth, publhed in September 2011 by an African Development Bank staff team led by Mthuli Ncube.

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OVER the past decade, Africa has been growing at an unprecedented rate, despite the successive global food and financial crises. Although it will take decades of growth to make major inroads into Africa’s poverty, there is now growing optimism about the continent’s potential.

Africa has an abundance of natural resources and is the world’s most youthful continent (as a share of total population). If it invests more in its young people and in the hard and soft infrastructure required for growth, Africa could become one of the world’s most dynamic and productive economies, according to a new report from the African Development Bank (AfDB).

Growth and poverty

The report’s estimates—based on extrapolations of current economic performance—suggest that both economic output and output per capita will increase steadily between 2010 and 2060. By that time, most African countries—whose populations are expected to peak at 2.7 billion by 2060 (compared with 1 billion in 2010)—will attain upper-middle-income status.

One of the results of the strong economic growth of the past two decades has been a significant increase in the size of the African middle class (defined as those earning between $4 and $20 a day). The middle class will continue to grow—from 34 percent of Africa’s population in 2010 to 42 percent in 2060. Conversely, poverty rates are expected to fall, with the proportion of the population living on less than $1.25 a day declining from 44 percent in 2010 to 33 percent in 2060.

Technology and education

Africa will need substantial investment to ensure strong and sustainable growth over the next 50 years. Investments are needed in almost all...

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