The report was jointly released March 25, 2013 by the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the African Union (AU) at the ongoing 2012 AU-ECA Annual Joint Meeting in Abidjan, Ivory Coast.
According to the report themed “Making the most of Africa’s “commodities: Industrializing for growth, jobs and economic transformation”, Africa’s growth performance has improved hugely since the start of the 21st century after two decades of near stagnation.
It explains that since 2000, the continent has seen a prolonged commodity boom and sustained growth trend, adding that despite the fact that growth slowed from an average of 5.6% in 2002–2008 to 2.2% in 2009—hit by the global financial crisis and steep food and fuel price rises—Africa quickly recovered with growth of 4.6% in 2010.
The continent’s growth slipped again in 2011 owing to political transition in North Africa, said the report but “rebounded strongly once more to 5% in 2012 despite the global slowdown and uncertainty.”
Although largely commodity driven, the report attributed what it calls this “remarkable performance” to a variety of factors, such as strengthening domestic demand associated with rising incomes and urbanization, increasing public spending (especially on infrastructure), bumper harvests in some regions (due to favourable weather), tightening trade and investment ties with emerging economies (linked to their investment in Africa’s natural resource and extractive industries) and post-conflict economic recovery in several countries.
Africa’s medium-term growth prospects remain strong, too, at for example 4.8% in 2013 and 5.1% in 2014, it added.
The report highlighted that the global economy has, since the turn of the century, seen vast shifts in production and trade patterns alongside the emergence of new growth poles in the South. “The rapid rise of economic powers such as China, India and Brazil, the continuing financial and economic problems of industrialized countries, and ways of doing business revolutionized by advances in technology have taken the world into a new phase of globalization,” it explains.
This evolving order, according to the report, presents Africa with challenges as well as opportunities which, if met by effective policies, could lead to substantial socio-economic and political transformation, propelling the continent as a new pole of global growth.
By Ekow Quandzie in Abidjan, Ivory Coast