Following the incredible events of the Arab Spring, a wave of change continues to sweep through Africa. Reading this article in the Wall Street Journal I was reminded of how dynamic the socio-political situation is across this continent.
Africa is an important growth area for RSM and our clients globally.
As a network our strategy is to have a firm foundation in Africa’s key markets, continually building our network to provide our international clients with support for their businesses as they expand across Africa. At the same time, we are seeking to foster our African clients’ organic growth in Europe, China, India and the US.
The opportunity is immense. Africa has the youngest population in the world, with almost 200 million people aged between 15 and 24. According to the African Economic Outlook this number will double by 2045, putting huge demands on the economy to keep up and create jobs.
The good news is that African economies continue to grow across the continent, at 4.5% this year, with even higher rates predicted for next year.
The economic growth story is compelling. Seven of the top ten fastest growing economies in the world are in Africa, mainly those with a wealth of natural resources. It is widely expected that Nigeria will overtake South Africa as the leading African economy during the next 5-10 years.
African governments are also relaxing the restrictions on foreign investment to increase the development of infrastructure, education, telecommunications and the agricultural sector. Roads are being built, airports upgraded, hotels are springing up everywhere and internet connectivity is burgeoning. Mobile commerce is hastening the growth of SMEs as banking services become accessible to everyone with a mobile telephone. These improvements create wealth and benefits for entire populations.
This economic growth is underpinned by a decade of comparative peace and political stability. Democratic reforms have slowly but surely given groups who previously would have resorted to armed conflict political representation. There are still protests, unrest and instability, but the young population is organised and agitating for political liberalisation, competition, and electoral representation. This year alone will see 23 democratic, multi-party elections.
Africa is undergoing a truly remarkable transformation. If the right policies are put in place to capitalize on the continents abundant human capital and natural resources, Africa could be on the verge of a development breakthrough with all the ingredients for a future economic powerhouse. RSM will be there, building our presence, assisting businesses to invest and African businesses to expand. It’s going to be a fascinating and rewarding experience for everyone involved.