Africa starts 2013 with hope and optimism. Africa has dropped its mantle as a “doomed continent” and has weathered several global economic crises fairly well. Today, the continent is a land of opportunity both for Africans and international investors. Many now see the region as “emerging Africa” because of the positive changes that have taken place and continue to take place across the continent.
Africa has changed, moving from economic stagnation to above 5 percent GDP growth on average. The continent is now home to some of the fastest growing economies in the world: Ethiopia, Ghana, Mozambique and Tanzania. This growth has helped build a burgeoning middle class, which has created new markets for goods and services. Investors focused on tapping into these new markets in Africa are likely to find it easier to do business there than ever before as African governments are working to reduce transaction costs. In addition to growing consumer markets, African countries have discovered additional natural resources. If managed properly, these resources could help spur further economic growth and development for the region and improve the lives of millions.
Such an optimistic outlook for the continent means that African and global policymakers must get ahead of the challenges and opportunities for an important year of decision-making. Since 2010, the Brookings Africa Growth Initiative (AGI) has asked its scholars to assess the top priorities for Africa in the coming year. This year, AGI experts and colleagues have identified what they consider to be the key issues for 2013 and ways to leverage opportunities so that Africa can continue its “emerging” momentum. The following briefs in the Foresight Africa collection are meant to create a dialogue on what matters in Africa for 2013, and it is our hope that this dialogue will continue through the year.