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No African nation has
yet joined the ranks of the developed nations in the Organisation for Economic
Co-operation and Development (OECD), but there are some sizeable economies on
the continent, and economies that are gradually increasing in size. Though
South Africa is by far the continent’s wealthiest state in terms of GDP,
accounting for 30 per cent of the continent’s GDP, economies such as Egypt and
Nigeria are on the rise and could overtake South Africa in coming years. And
with seven of the fastest ten growing economies in the world in Africa, there
is plenty of scope to suggest that the list below may be an oft-changing one in
years to come as Africa’s economic development continues apace.
South Africa
Africa’s biggest economy has an estimated GDP of $524
billion. The main contributor to GDP is the services sector at 66.7 per cent,
followed by industry at 30.8 per cent. Agriculture is relatively

unimportant
compared to the rest of the continent, contributing just 2.5 per cent to GDP.
All is not bright for the South African economy, however. Of the country’s 50
million people an estimated 25 per cent are out of work, with the World Bank
concluding recently that rife inequality was a threat to economic growth. The richest
10 per cent of South Africans account for 58 percent of the nation’s income,
while the bottom 10 per cent accounts for 0.5 per cent, the global Bank said.
The bottom half earns less than 8 per cent of the nation’s income. Unemployment
in the first quarter of 2012 rose to 25.2%, up from 23.9% in the previous
quarter, and black people form the bulk of the jobless. Modest economic growth,
which averaged 3.2% since 1995, had proved “insufficient to absorb the wave of
new entrants to the labour market from dismantling apartheid’s barriers”, the
report said.

Egypt
Egypt has a GDP estimated at $497.88 billion, primarily
driven by the services and industrial sectors. Agriculture contributes 14
percent. Though unemployment is relatively low at 9.7 percent, the economy
faces challenges after last year’s Arab Spring and the election of a new
government. Rising debt and lower growth may threaten to derail Egypt’s
revolution even more than grasping generals do. New president Mohammed Morsy’s
political fate may depend on whether or not he can turn around a staggering
Egyptian economy, which saw growth plunge from 5.1 percent in 2009/10 to 1.8
percent last year, according to the IMF. The IMF expects growth to be just 1.5
percent this year. Poor education and feeble governance have scared off the
foreign investment and stifled the private entrepreneurship that drove the
economic miracles in China, India and Indonesia. Unless Morsy manages to create
more jobs and boost incomes, the disaffected and disappointed youth of the
nation could turn on their elected leaders in a destabilising cycle of
perpetual unrest.
Nigeria
Nigeria is Africa’s most populous nation but its GDP has
traditionally been well below that of South Africa. Its GDP of $377.9 billion
is provided by industry, agriculture and services. But this looks set to
change, according to a Renaissance Capital report. This year, Nigeria will
change the base year for its GDP to 2008 from 1990. This looks likely to revise
the size of its economy dramatically upwards. Depending on the scale of the
revision, Renaissance Capital says Nigeria could surpass South Africa as the
continent’s largest economy as soon as 2014. When Ghana’s GDP was rebased in
2010, the size of its economy was found to be 60 percent bigger than previously recorded –
$31 billion, compared to $18 billion. Nigeria is expected to rebase its GDP
sometime this year, having missed an earlier January target because of
nationwide fuel protests. Rebasing involves changing the weighting of sectors
of the economy to reflect changes in economic activity over the past three
decades. The new figures would, for instance, put more weighting on
the country’s telecommunications industry, which has grown strongly
over the past 10 years.
Algeria
The Algerian economy is expected to remain in relatively
good condition in 2012 despite global economic uncertainties. It’s GDP of
$251.1 billion, provided mostly by the industrial sector, is expected to grow
by 3 to 3.5 percent. Economic growth remained strong in 2011 as oil prices strengthened
the country’s foreign reserves and budget. “Public expenditure plans will keep
growth in non-oil sectors at 5 percent and boost up GDP by 2.5 percent,” the
IMF said. Increased food prices in international markets and the augmentation
of public wages in Algeria was not reflected in inflation rates due to ongoing
food subsidies, increased family savings, increasing demand for imports, and
prudent monetary policy. “Budget deficit will likely remain at 4 percent of the
total GDP as public expenditures as well as wage augmentation continue,” added
the IMF.
Morocco
These are not good times for Morocco, Africa’s fifth biggest
economy, where in April the new Islamist government finally passed its 2012
budget, four months late. This saw protests outside parliament, previously
unheard of in the stable and relatively prosperous North African country. Its
budget is overstretched, its farm fields drought-stricken, its credit rating is
wobbly, and economic crisis is hobbling its closest trading partners in Europe,
even as protests by disgruntled Moroccans are on the rise. Abdelilah
Benkirane’s government came in with a five-year plan predicting 5.5 percent
growth, which it then had to revise downward at the beginning of the year to
4.2 percent. Then at the end of March, the central bank, noting the crisis in
Europe and impending drought, cut its own predictions to less than 3 percent.
 Source: Ventures Africa

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