Christian Nouboue
Post by On 01 July 2013 In Blog 3061 comments

Time to lift up Africa!

“Many small people who in many small places do many small things can alter the face of the world.”    
                                                   - African proverb from the Xhosa (Tanzania, South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho)

Africa has long been associated with negative news, sometimes being portrayed as the “hopeless continent”(1). Today however, I deeply believe that conditions are met for the continent to rise provided that we, Africans, are committed to propel our countries forward. Actually, it is an extraordinary time to be African: after decades of missed opportunities, Africa is, at last, ripe for a development take off.

 Hence this blog with its 3 simple goals: first convince the most skeptical of you that Africa’s current economic context is bright thus providing the perfect setting for a take off. Second, get Africans, governments, locals and diaspora, to be genuinely convinced of the historic opportunity so that they can commit themselves to addressing the enormous challenges still faced on the continent. Third, modestly contribute to solutions to Africa’s problems based on facts-based analyses to the best of my humble expertise with the help of your much sought after feedback. 


A bright economic context, perfect for a take off

Africa is booming and this boom might last for a moment. Over the last decade, Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) has been the World’s second fastest-growing region. Developing Asia (thanks to China) is the only region who performed better (see exhibit 1).

Exhibit 1: Evolution of GDP at Constant Prices in regions of the world


More important, it’s more than just a commodity boom and drivers of this growth are long lasting:

  • Commodity boom: the rise of industrial output in Asia (esp. China) triggered a global race for commodities resulting in increasingly high(2) commodity prices that has benefited commodity-rich African countries.
  • Favourable Demographics(3): Over the last decade, SSA’s population grew larger (+225 million Africans), became more urban (+120 million urban Africans) and the demographic transition – fewer children per mother- mathematically improved the ratio of working population / dependent population (children, elderlies).
  • Emerging middle class: 355 million(4) Africans already spend between $4 and $20 a day and consumer spending in Africa is expected to double(4) to nearly $1 trillion by 2020. This yields tremendous opportunities for retail, consumer goods, agriculture, manufacturing and financial services, which collectively account for around 40% of additional GDP. 
  • Increasingly widespread technology: Though significantly lower than in other regions, penetration rates of technologies (mobiles, internet…) are growing and bringing associated gains in productivity. Africa is even at the cutting-edge in some of these technologies (e.g. mobile payment)(5)

As a result, the world believes in Africa. Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) in Africa more than quadrupled over the last decade from $9.7 billion in 2000 to $43 billion, despite a slowdown due to the global crisis.

Solving Africa’s problems involves first and foremost Africans

Despite this potential, several issues need to be fixed to sustainably put Africa on the development path and addressing these challenges definitely involves several stakeholders, from governments to private sector/civil society and international organizations. However, to my view, the single most important stakeholders are Africans themselves since no country has ever developed without a deep commitment of its own people and elite. Therefore I strongly believe that every African should commit oneself, to the best of his/her expertise, to finding solutions for his/her country. This is all the more critical that Africa relies on limited skilled manpower.

Many Africans rightfully object that current governments sometimes hinders good initiatives; Others are unwilling to invest their efforts to help countries that have never helped them and are a real hindrance in their lives (perks required for basic administrative procedures, month-long procedures to obtain passports…). To them I want to say that we cannot afford to have a mere contractual relation with our very young States (“the State must help me first before I give back”) like citizens of more developed countries precisely because we are at the beginning stage. Mature States – like the United States or European ones - result from centuries of commitment of enlightened individuals who invested their time/ideas (sometimes at the expense of their lives) to build the very foundations of these societies’ current institutions and society frameworks. Most of them probably gave much more to their nascent countries than they received but they were genuinely interested in leaving a better future for their children.

As illustrated by the introductory quote, the strong commitment of even “random average citizens” can significantly change the face of our continent regardless of governments’ actions. So we should take our responsibilities as citizens and invest our time/efforts to solve our problems. By the way, this is a unique opportunity to shape our countries' models and substantially contribute to the design of our societies. For me, such an opportunity offers more meaning to life than a mere contractual relation with one’s government.

This blog is my modest contribution to finding solutions for Africa

Deeply convinced by the role Africans can and should play to leverage this historic opportunity to take off, I decided to start this blog to contribute to finding solutions for Africa. As a strategy consultant, the most efficient way I can contribute to the rise of my continent is to apply the same rigorous facts-based logical approach to the best of my expertise to designing development strategies for Sub-Saharan African countries.  

In this blog, I will do my very best to provide facts-based well thought-out recommendations to fix our countries’ problems. One recommendation at a time, I will share my humble suggestions and will be very happy to have your feedback. Even with the best intentions and after thorough analyses, one might still miss important points. That’s the reason why your feedback is not only welcomed but also sought after. With your help, we can start building a set of smart policies ready to be implemented for the day our governments are willing to listen. Governments not genuinely interested in the interest of their people might last for years, decades, centuries maybe but certainly not forever. So this thought-process won’t be lost (over a sufficiently long time horizon).

So fellow Africans and friends of Africa, I invite you to give your feedback on the suggestions I intend to make. Read, like, criticize, comment, share, follow us on social networks to keep up to date and take part to the  great adventure that will eventually contribute to the rise of Africa: it is high time we lifted up this continent!

On a lighter note, this is a video on a billion reasons…to believe in Africa.

(1) The Economist, May 13th 2000

(2) The IMF commodity Price Index, which averages the prices of several commodities, multiplied threefold between 2000 and 2012

(3) Source: African Development Bank

Read 64127 times Last modified on Monday, 08 July 2013 18:37
  Christian Nouboue

Christian Nouboue is a strategy consultant based in Paris who has done several projects in 7+ African countries. Educated in Cameroon, France and Germany, he is passionate about development challenges faced by Sub-Saharan African countries. He is the founder of the Afrikati blog. 

Christian Nouboué est un consultant en stratégie d’entreprises qui a effectué plusieurs projets dans plus de 7 pays d’Afrique. Il a effectué ses études au Cameroun, en France et en Allemagne et s’intéresse beaucoup aux problématiques de développement auxquelles sont confrontés les pays Africains. 

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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