On the other hand, Southern Africa – even including South Africa – is the worst performing major region, with Angola, Mozambique, Zambia and DRC all hit by commodity price declines, while Zimbabwe, eSwatini and Malawi were affected by a combination of commodity prices, drought and governance issues.
“West Africa looks relatively good, with the regional GDP growing from $600 billion to over $1 trillion and Nigeria expected to rebound in 2019 and beyond,” says Whitehouse. “Central Africa is the smallest regional economy, but ticks along and is expected to maintain growth of around 3.5% a year – much of it driven by regional gateway Cameroon.”
Whitehouse noted that by 2023, the continent will see five economies of over $100 billion (Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya, Angola and Ethiopia); and five more of over $50 billion (Tanzania, Ghana, Cote d'Ivoire, DRC and Cameroon).
She points out that in many African countries and regions, key development drivers are inextricably linked to corridors – either by design or fortune. “As such, corridor development and ‘anchor tenants’ or projects are once again becoming critical in Africa’s development story.”
Whitehouse identifies several sectors which are key development drivers on the continent: agriculture, extractives (stranded minerals), urbanisation & rising incomes, industrial, and ICT, telecoms and power.
She describes the urban “middle class” as not yet a stable entity, but a large “floating class” that hovers just above the poverty line, while the lower-middle consumer group added two million people a year in last decade. The upper-middle class remains a relatively small group, but is growing.
“Wealthier Africans are largely urban and are driving consumption of consumer goods and building materials,” Whitehouse says.
Africa’s top import markets remain South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana and Angola, with the key source of supply for all these markets being China. Not surprisingly, China also holds a significant part of the key supplier market share in these countries – 19% in South Africa and Angola and 33% in Nigeria, Kenya and Ghana.
Africa Trade Week will be held from 23 to 25 June 2019 at the Gallagher Convention Centre, in Midrand, and includes the co-location of the South African International Trade Exhibition (SAITEX), The Hotel Show Africa, and Africa’s Big 7.