In an era of high volatility and deep crisis, Africa has been an economic success story. A combination of high commodity prices, increased domestic demand, improved economic governance and management, and stronger trade and investment ties with other developing economies has helped African countries record on average an impressive 5% annual growth in gross domestic product over the past 10 years. It is a performance that more developed and wealthier regions simply cannot match.
But while this record should be reason for celebration and confidence, progress on social development has been far slower. Africa’s growth, contrary to the headline figures, has not been sufficiently inclusive or provided the new jobs the continent and its people desperately need.
So what are the reasons for this discrepancy? The 2014 Economic Report on Africa found that the root cause was the continued heavy dependence on primary commodity production and exports, and that industrialisation is an essential precondition for inclusive economic growth and structural transformation.