The rise of Africa’s long forlorn economies – what we at Renaissance Capital have dubbed “The Fastest Billion” – represents the final phase of a global economic transformation that began over 200 years ago as agrarian societies saddled with absolute rulers began their journey through industrialization into the pluralistic middle-class societies increasingly driven by the information age we know today.
For many reasons, Africa largely missed out on this journey. But no longer: while the process will not be complete by 2050, a changing set of global and local realities suggest that Africa is set to be the final beneficiary of this revolution.
Over the past decade, the billion people who live in Africa have experienced the fastest growth the continent has ever seen, and many of its countries (Nigeria, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Guinea) are among the fastest growing in the world. A growing body of evidence backs our view that as Africa’s population doubles to two billion over the next several decades, its GDP will increase from $2 trillion today to $29 trillion in today’s money by 2050.
To many in the West, such figures beggar belief – just as similar projections for East Asia’s Tiger economies or Latin America’s star performers did in the 1980s. The idea that Americans and Europeans would drive around in South Korean automobiles, or fly around in Brazilian-made jetliners, would have brought great guffaws from experts of 1980. But today, Hyundai, Kia and Embrear are household names. Things change quickly when certain tipping points are reached. We believe Africa has reached such a point.