Africa: 10 Things You Need to Know About Africa in 2014

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analysis

The economic outlook for 2014 is positive, with the continent projected to grow by 5.5%. Why? Africa's largest economies are driving growth, notably Nigeria, Kenya, Ethiopia, Ghana and Angola. In the coming year, the power and influence of these countries will become further entrenched.

5. There is more to growth than commodities - The stabilisation of demand, rather than a renewed surge in the price of key commodities, will underpin Africa's economic performance in 2014. African economies have not benefitted from high commodity prices to the extent that is commonly assumed.

A more detailed look at national economic data highlights the prominence of the African consumer in driving growth, with commodities playing more of a supporting role. Resource exploration will, however, continue to gather pace, and is likely to have a significant impact on future growth trajectories.

6. Nigeria is a microcosm of the continent - In 2004-10, the Nigerian economy grew at a rate of 7% per annum. Over the same period, poverty levels also grew by 6.5% a year.

The gulf between those (few) who benefit from economic growth and the poorest in society will become more pronounced in 2014 - and not just in Nigeria. Job creation is not taking place on the scale needed to reduce poverty. As such, there is a pressing need to untangle the continent's investment narrative from development realities

7. Regional integration is essential, but not inevitable - Most economies in Africa are too small to attract much-needed investment on their own.

Increasing market size by integrating economic policies and procedures with those of neighbouring countries is the only realistic hope for sustained growth over time. While the East African Community is arguably the best illustration of what can be achieved through regional integration, the pace of these developments across the continent remains sluggish.

8. It's not all about China - Bold steps continue to be taken by new development partners. In December 2013, Turkey became the 78th member state of the African Development Bank.

In the same month, Brazil's National Bank for Economic and Social Development (BNDES) intensified its activities on the continent by opening a branch in Johannesburg, South Africa - only its third office overseas in just over half a century of operating.

9. Introducing MINT (Malaysia, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey) - Jim O'Neill, the economist who coined the acronym BRICS, tips MINT countries to assert their economic credentials in 2014. They stand out, he argues, because all four have favourable demographics for at last 20 years and possess a unique economic potential.

10. Africa is not rising - It is changing. Period.

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