Africa is the second-fastest growing region in the world, behind only South Asia. The UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs predicts that, between 2018 and 2035, the world’s top ten fastest-growing cities will all be African. Europe’s economic growth, comparatively, has been somewhat anaemic. True, European economies are starting from a higher base, and African countries face significant challenges, from poverty and disease, to high unemployment and poor infrastructure. Yet investment in Africa is booming, and it’s hard not to look at the growth figures that African economies are posting without a certain amount of envy.

What do our readers think? We had a comment sent in from James, who argues that, for years now, Africa has been growing faster than almost any other region (including Europe). He accepts there are challenges, but says the overall story is one of a diverse, dynamic continent of over one billion people that is developing rapidly. Is he right to say the continent is booming? And, if so, what’s driving Africa’s growth?

To get a response, we put James’ comment to Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, former President of the Republic of Liberia (2006 – 2018), when we met up with her at the EU-Africa high level group in Brussels on 10 October 2018. What would she say?

For another perspective, we also put the same comment to Mo Ibrahim, a Sudanese-British billionaire businessman who is also Chair and Founder of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, an organisation working to promote good governance and leadership in Africa. How would he respond?

Next up, we had a comment sent in from Ironworker, who wants to know if Europe can learn from China’s approach to Africa. He says it’s not a secret that China is making huge investments in Africa, nor that it is strategically interested in African oil, rare metals, and minerals.

We put this comment to Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, former Liberian President. What are her thoughts about China’s investment in Africa? Is it positive? And should Europe be following a similar approach?

Finally, how would Mo Ibrahim respond to the same comment?

Why are African economies outperforming Europe? Should Europe be copying China’s approach to Africa, or is China repeating the errors of the past? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

IMAGE CREDITS: CC / Flickr – GovernmentZA

13 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar

    … it was not without time.

  2. avatar

    Maybe because they work cheap, much extra time and nobody cares if they pollute or not. Just saying…

    • avatar

      I too am concerned that the workers may not be enjoying safe working conditions and decent wages or an infrastructure that improves living conditions. Maybe trade agreements should tackle this on behalf of the workers…if they don’t already do so. ❤

  3. avatar
    catherine benning

    Why are African economies outperforming Europe?

    This is wonderful news. It doesn’t matter how or why they are outperforming Europe as long as it is not us, the European paying for it via the back door we never hear about. Now, Africa can honestly feed, house, educate and generally medicate to take care of their own people, their need to flee in non existent. And they can once again return home. They will need their hard workers to improve the situation dramatically there.

    Not only that, perhaps with a bit of good planning and a lot of good will they can send Aid to European States that are in dire need of feeding and housing African migrants who are able to travel all that way here, as they felt they were starving to death, which caused them to leave their home and loving families to rely on Europeans to support them here.

    Then if you add to that, our need for our poor to receive Aid from them, those we have lined up at food banks and all, surely they can now, due to doing so well in those economies, can willingly and happily, afford it. Reciprocal love of fellow human being is all the trend today. And I am sure they would want to be just as generous as we to them.

    What really good news this is.

  4. avatar
    Friederike Adams

    Europe should engage much more and in a much more responsible manner (accountability, transparency cy) and on eye level. Which would as a welcome side effect help solve the migration problem on both sides.

  5. avatar

    People are willing to work had to succeed, they are educated and innovative.They have enough experience of the Western world to want the same things, but in an affordable way. Thus relatively small investments can bring a large return.

  6. avatar
    EU Reform- Proactive

    “Should Europe be copying China’s approach?”

    How can the Treaty bound EU suddenly drop most of its HR +++ & multi party democratic principles and copy China- being a well organised & run one party communist state, by implementing a very successful capitalist economy? Never!

    One of China’s aim is to have at least one Chinese trader in every African village- even in the most remote areas- selling Chinese goods. It’s a peaceful, silent invasion/migration on a global scale! How can e.g. a “German Mr. Frank-Walter Steinmeier”- never mind a “JCJ” +27 members- compete with such might & will of the Chinese people?

    The EU is shackled to its standards- so is China committed to its future decided by their one Politburo, one powerful Comrade Leader to achieve their set goal of global domination and self reliance by 2025- the “China’s way”!

    Most African countries aspire to become one party states, are still confused by Marxism, Communism, (due to the past support from their communist USSR & Cuban cold war Masters- forget “Norway or Sweden”) and Capitalism, a free market economic model, guaranteed property rights, rule of law, accountability, and the most difficult of all- “honesty” in governance to really uplift the poor- not themselves.

    Even South Africa’s majority party- the ANC- is bending backwards to outdo its Marxist “EFF” rivals to change its Constitution to allow “expropriation of land without compensation”!

    All this is in line to satisfy the world to “expropriate” in a “lawful & legal way” as per the in future changed SA Constitution. It’s back to “subsistence” & endless government support & bail outs. But- never tell a lie!

    All to “Right the Wrongs of the past” as SA President “Ramaphosa” so smartly explains to its naive & cheering EU counterparts! (Zim’s Mugabe was also showing “Westminster” & the West a thing or two!)

    Africa is in a development phase with plenty of natural resources, lots of opportunities for the “correct partners”, lots of youth unemployment, lots of restrictive labor & business conditions to benefit the former disadvantaged, its politicians & cronies, highly active trade unions & and all are hell bend to implement “Indigenization” on all fronts to eliminate the bad effects of “white colonialism”.

    Africa remains a high risk- high reward scenario, mainly for those with deep pockets and the never say die global opportunists. Nothing for the faint hearted!

  7. avatar

    Is Ellen Johnson Sirleaf suggesting that Africa’s economic outperform Europe is the fault of the US, Europe and other countries for they have done nothing to block China’s engagement? Is Ellen Johnson Sirleaf suggesting that African states should not be outperforming Europe’s economy? What power she has got to make such comment? Are African states not sovereign states?

  8. avatar

    Why Africa’s economic outperform Europe? It is simply because the African people are not fans of the Cold War bifurcated world. Both China and Africa know that well beings of the people gives government legitimacy rather than election. The most important message here is that election does not equal to democracy and democracy does not equal to good governance, again democracy does not equal to freedom and equality… Again what is more important is not rhetoric but real contribution of government to people. Democracy is the rule of people, rule by the people and rule for the people… Unfortunately, in democracy, people does not necessarily implying everyone…

  9. avatar

    This question “should Europe be copying China’s approach to Africa” cannot explain why Africa’s economy outperform Europe. We might better ask “how Europe can engage in Africa so as to improve its economic performance” should be more productive.

  10. avatar

    Another reason that Africa’s economy outperform that of Europe is that they do not waste money and lives in war, while Europe has been supporting the America Great Again and fighting war and imposing sanction all over the world…is Europe living for the America? Apparently, Europe has already abandoned their Enlightenment project for Europe has been following the US too long since the end of the Cold War. It is time for Europe to regain their own liberty. Europe should not be subservient to anyone other than the goods and benefit of the European people.

    • avatar

      Since the postwar multilateral international organization and free trade are established by the US and Europe, when the US has decided to collapse the organization, it is truly the removal of a big pillar. The organization should normally fall. As China has all the intention, the deliberation and power to support and to reform this order, China is a relatively new player and nor the founding country. For the interest of Europe and the whole world in this era ” after hegemony”, it is necessary to cooperate with China when we cannot readily see any possible replacement. Trump’s calling for the demolition of the international organization is highly dangerous. For an orderly international system which has been operating for almost a century and bringing prosperity and peace to the whole world. It would not be broken down without resistance and chaos without the mobilization a total war. War or peace, it is the choice of Europe now.

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