22 November 2012

Africa: Gambia Among 10 'Countries of Hope' for Africa

An independent study by the Berlin Institute for Population and Development (BIPD) announced The Gambia as one of 10 emerging nations that are the main sources of 'hope for Africa'.

Other countries to join that list were South Africa, Namibia, Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Senegal, Ghana, Gabon and Mauritius. The top 10 were surprisingly placed above two of the continent's 'big names' - Nigeria and Kenya.

Read on:

"Africa, united, is on the brink of a breakthrough." These were the words of Mr. Donald Kaberuka, President of the African Development Bank, when he addressed the 32nd Summit of the Heads of State and Government of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) last month.

The reasoning behind his words is clear; Africa has great hope and potential, full of emerging nations that look set to put the continent firmly on the world map in terms of economy, opportunity and international relations. An independent study by the Berlin Institute for Population and Development revealed Gambia as one of ten emerging nations that are the main sources of hope for Africa.

Other countries to join that list were South Africa, Namibia, Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Senegal, Ghana, Gabon and Mauritius. The top ten were surprisingly placed above two of the continent's 'big names' - Nigeria and Kenya. Nigeria brings in ten percent of Africa's total income, and Kenya is Africa's top user of mobile phones and adopting new technologies, yet it smaller nations such as Gambia that were identified as having the most potential.

Investment from the developed world

Due to the Eurozone crisis, many Western countries are looking to invest in Africa - Germany is one that is particularly serious. Its analytical study of economic growth in Africa was carried out in order to identify and inform potential investors of the real level of growth. The study analysed four key areas of performance - economy, population, living conditions and rule of law in 50 African states.

Gambia was selected as one of Africa's "beacons of hope" due to its fast growing middle class, which typically leads to a reduction in birth rates and an increase in democracy. The economy across the Sahel region was found to have increased by more than five percent over the past year, with even the least strong countries reporting a growth.

The chief economist of the ADB, Mthuli Cube, said that all African countries will finish the year in the black. It is hoped that the results of the study can convince foreign establishments to invest in African development, and to quash some of the stigma that has long been associated with African economies.

Identifying opportunity

Another Western nation that is actively seeking to invest in African infrastructure is Ireland. The country is poised to bid for up to $12 billion worth of projects, not just in Gambia but across the continent, thanks to a new report by the Irish Engineering Enterprises Federation and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. The report, 'Winning Business in Africa - Building a Cluster for Infrastructure Projects', identifies over 100 potential investment opportunities in Africa over the next five years.

Ireland's Minister for Trade and Development Joe Costello, said: "Africa is a dynamic continent, where growth rates in many countries reached 7pc over the last five years. Irish companies are very well placed to meet the exponential growth in demand for goods and services across the continent."

Consumer technology boom

The growth of many of the Berlin study's ten "regions of hope" was down, in part, to a huge demand for consumer products such as mobile phones. This demand in consumer technology, and rise in the middle class, is due to the fact that working age adults are making up an increased proportion of the population. This higher level of workers is leading to more people that are able to contribute to the stability of the economy. This is also leading to increased tourism within countries such as Gambia. Many international travel and tour operators are now offering coupons and discounts on holidays to Gambia, as well as a myriad of special deals, as they seek to entice and convince people that the country is an appealing holiday destination. Companies are tapping into these must-see destinations of the future, and are helping to put minds at ease that Gambia - along with other African nations - is a safe and peaceful place to take a holiday. As they realise they are able to pick up amazing travel deals as a consequence, consumers are helping to build income through the Gambia's tourism sector.

Consumer and business opportunities

There have been many recent international press reports that recognise the potential of Gambia - both as a tourist destination and as an investment potential. The country's government is doing all it can to drive the country forward to live up to these promising reports. The Tourism and Culture Ministry expects that as the tourism industry diversifies, the Gambia will grow into a renowned year-round holiday destination. In the words of All Africa magazine, "there is no doubt that the travel and tourism industry in The Gambia has a very bright future."

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