KEDC President Robert Brown’s View on the Economic Growth in Africa


Hi my name is Robert Brown and I’m a partner at Bingham Greenebaum Doll LLP and what I do is concentrate on international trade issues. I just returned yesterday from Vietnam and what intrigued me although most Americans are always looking at the fastest growing economies in Asia or looking at the more established economies in Europe what the message that I kept hearing about over and over is the opportunities in Africa. Africa’s largely an ignored continent, most of us in the United States when we consider doing business internationally Africa is at the bottom of the list.

Let me give you some facts and figures from the economists. The fastest growing economies from 2000 to 2010 out of the 10 fastest growing economies 6 of them were from Africa. They included Angola, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Chad, Mozambique, and Rwanda. Now sure we can say those were small economies and any small growth is going to be of great numbers and that will put them in the fastest growing ones but when you look at the same charts looking forward 10 years from the year 2011 through 2020 again the fastest growing economies in the world include again Nigeria, Ethiopia, Mozambique, but also Tanzania, Congo, Ghana, and Zambia. So when you’re looking for opportunities we can certainly think of the 10% growth rate in China that may be slowing down a bit. We can look at growth rates in other parts of Asia at 7-8% but not to be ignored is the economies in Africa.

For a moment let me just focus on three of them. The three I am going to talk about are Nigeria, Ethiopia, and Mozambique. Each of them have growth rates of over 8% and with that kind of a growth rate there’s an economic term called a rule of 72. If you take 72 and divide it by your growth rate in this case, let’s make our math a little bit easier a 7% growth rate would mean that an economy would grow and double every 10 years so this is the magnitude of the opportunities. Now what exactly are those countries looking for but to underscore how important other parts of the world have been recognizing opportunities in Africa their largest trading partners are not in the United States where any of the three. Their largest import markets are from China and from other parts of Asia. Their largest export markets tend to be Europe or Latin America. So again these are opportunities for Americans when you’re looking at your world and you’re trying to chart where should I be doing business think not just of the fast growing economies in Asia think also about the fastest growing economies over half of them in the world are now in Africa.

Again Robert Brown and if I can help you on international trade issues please get in contact with me. Thank you.