BACKGROUND TO AFRICA
Africa has enjoyed one and a half decades of robust economic growth. Against the background of serious political, socio-economic challenges including extreme poverty, disease and high infant mortality and civil strife, Africa collectively pulled a GDP of US $1.6 trillion in 2008, almost equalling that of Brazil or Russia, and it is estimated to peak US $2.6 trillion by 2020. With an estimated annual growth of 4.5 percent Africa ranks among the fastest growing economic regions in the world. Much of its recent growth has been generated by internal political and economic reforms that have created domestic political stability and market driven environment; commodity and oil exports, thriving domestic consumer face sector (telecoms, consumer goods and banking), and agricultural activities. Furthermore, Africa has tremendous potentials when it comes to Agriculture. Africa possesses about 60 percent of the world’s uncultivated arable land, and with 60 percent of its population living in the rural areas, the agricultural sector is fundamental to its overall economic development and growth.
Despite this momentum, Africa faces some pitfalls on its current growth trajectory – dependence on single or too few export commodities and sectors ranks chiefly among them. In addition to its exposure and vulnerability to fluctuations in commodity prices, certainly, majority of the 54 African nations face serious political, social and economic challenges, including extreme poverty, unemployment, disease and high infant mortality. They also face urgent priorities in addressing security, infrastructure, housing and education. These pitfalls and gaps could constrain Africa’s potential without the right set of catalysts to propel growth in the decades ahead.
Africa can address many of these challenges by boosting non-traditional sectors, expanding their range of products and exports, engaging with new economic and development partners and by carving out its own unique opportunities from the global Halal mega trend, covering the following four groups of industries – consumer-facing industries, agriculture, resources, and infrastructure- which together could generate as much as $2.6 trillion in revenue annually by 2020.