Maybe Africa Really Will Be the New China – by Noah Smith (Bloomberg News – June 3, 2019)

When people tell me that Africa will be the new China, I’m not as incredulous as I used to be. The continent is showing potential, and progress could come from what many consider to be a highly unlikely area: manufacturing.

All across Africa, investors — many of them private entrepreneurs from China — are building factories. Others from India, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh are joining in, while car companies from Japan, Germany, and South Korea are declaring their intent to put assembly plants in places such as Ethiopia, Tanzania, and Ghana.

Meanwhile, overall African growth is looking impressive. The International Monetary Fund forecasts that 6 of the top 10 fastest-growing economies will be African this year:

Manufacturing is only one factor. A recovery in natural resource prices and urbanization (which creates more demand for local services) also play important roles.

That said, there may be a lot more manufacturing going on than official statistics suggest, since only a small fraction of African workers tend to be employed in the formal sector.

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