Futurist sees Africa’s rise, calls for faster integration

28th November 2014 By: Chantelle Kotze

Futurist sees Africa’s rise, calls for faster integration

GUY LUNDY Although Africa’s borders were starting to become more efficient, it had a lot of work to do regarding the integration of its regional economies

Only 13% to 15% of Africa’s trade takes place within the continent – compared with 63% in Europe and 40% in North America – leaving huge scope for better economic integration among African countries, according to futurist and scenario planner Guy Lundy.

Speaking at mining explosives company BME’s twenty-second yearly Drilling and Blasting Conference, held at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research’s International Conference Centre, in Pretoria, earlier this month, Lundy said that, although Africa’s borders were starting to become more efficient, it had a lot of work to do regarding the integration of its regional economies.

BME, active in Africa for 30 years, holds the conference for blasting practitioners, as part of its commitment to developing skills and technology.

In his keynote address, Lundy reminded delegates that South Africa had been playing an important role in inter-Africa investment and trade.

“We are seeing very strong investment taking place out of South Africa in the rest of Africa. In 2012, SA was the single-largest investor in foreign direct investment projects in the rest of Africa – which is definitely a step in the direction of regional integration.”

A vital factor fuelling recent progress was the spread of democracy, said Lundy.

“Across Africa, the belief in democracy is undoubtedly on the rise, encouraged by better flows of information which is supported by mobile communications and Internet access.

“From 1960 to 1989, only five African counties held elections on a regular basis; since 1990, however, there have been more than 30 changes of government through democratic processes,” he added.

As democracy increasingly took root on the continent, he said better macroeconomic policies were being put into place, which would lead to higher gross domestic product growth in many African countries. Growth rates of more than 6% in the next three years were expected in Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania and Zambia.

“There is an issue with public-sector corruption in Africa, but we do tend to blow this out of proportion in terms of their impact on attracting investment,” he said, citing Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index, which showed that most African countries were generally at similar levels, compared with those of Brazil, China, India and Vietnam.

“So, it is not a total disaster; the reality is that Africa is starting to move in the right direction. If you look at Rwanda, for example, it is now considered the thirteenth least corrupt country in the world. It is also the least corrupt country in Africa and is using this very specifically to attract more business,” Lundy added.

There was also a positive change in the nature of economic growth, as African economies diversified to include more manufacturing and services sectors, he said.

Looking to 2050, Lundy said Africa would have the largest number of working-age people of all the continents’ populations, making it a huge consumer market and attract the attention of the world’s factories.