Since 2001, the budding economies of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) have dominated global financial headlines. But looking back, it turns out some of the so-called “African lion” economies (Angola, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Chad, Mozambique and Rwanda) were just as fierce.
Six of the 10 fastest-growing economies in the world hail from the “forgotten continent” of Africa — putting up annual average GDP growth rates of around 8 percent or more from 2001-2010. The monumental rates have even earned these sprinters a spot next to “Asia's tigers” of the 1980 and 1990s — Making Africa one of the fastest growing regions in the world, according to The Economist.
Over the past decade, sub-Saharan Africa’s real GDP growth rate jumped to an annual average of 5.7%, up from only 2.4% over the previous two decades. That beat Latin America’s 3.3%, but not emerging Asia’s 7.9%. Asia’s stunning performance largely reflects the vast weight of China and India; most economies saw much slower growth, such as 4% in South Korea and Taiwan. The simple unweighted average of countries’ growth rates was virtually identical in Africa and Asia.
That said, in the next five years Africa is set to take the top spot from Asia as the fastest-growing region in the world, writes The Economist. "Standard Chartered forecasts that Africa’s economy will grow at an average annual rate of 7 percent over the next 20 years, slightly faster than China’s."
Ironically, much of Africa's growth can be attributed to China's investment and demand for raw materials in the region. And more recently, another of the BRICS, Brazil, has been competing for assets in Africa, writes Fast Company.
The Economist also notes growing success in Africa's manufacturing sector, which Standard Chartered predicts will become "significant."
Even with challenges such as political instability, corruption and weak rule of law, the African lions have been able to compete with the economic prowess of the Asian tigers.
But before Africa's growling economies can dream of surpassing Asia's roaring ones, those structural problems will have to be fixed.
"Without reforms," The Economist says, "Africa will not be able to sustain faster growth."