16 January 2014

Africa: The Demographic Dilemma - Africa's Economic Growth Under the Microscope



Only a few years ago Africa was labelled the hapless continent, a result of an era of colonial exploitation that was followed by decades of kleptocratic rule, civil wars and worse in many nations. Then, surprisingly, the popular narrative switched - it became a story of Africa rising.

This catch phrase was everyone's lips - and even on the covers of such usually-sober journals as The Economist. But, has the pendulum begun to swing away from an irrational exuberance for the continent's future? J. BROOKS SPECTOR attended an African business futures conference, organised by the Frontier Advisory organisation, to attempt to glean some clarity on the question.

To hear co-CEO of Standard Bank Sim Tshabalala tell it in his typically understated way, speaking the tones you wish your bank manager would use in dealing with you, he remains rather bullish on Africa. Increased economic growth in Europe and America in the coming year (as well as the continued Chinese procurement of commodities to fuel its economic boom) would help trigger further growth on the continent but most of the flags seem to be pointing the right way.

However, downside risks to growth for Africa do remain. These include the possibilities...

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