RENEW Strategies

Africa's Astonishing Statistics

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Laura Davis
| August 14, 2010

Not a week goes by that I don't get excited about the growth potential of at least one of the African businesses in RENEW's portfolio. There is no doubt in my mind that investors who are capitalizing on opportunities are positioning themselves for incredible growth potential over the long term. But on some occasions, when I am not caught up in the nitty-gritty of day-to-day work, I like to take a step back and look at Africa on a macro-level. That's when my mind explodes with the continent's great potential...

Africa includes 53 countries and more than one billion people. According to World Bank figures, real GDP rose 4.9% a year from 2000 through 2008, and didn't stop growing in the recent economic downturn. That's more than twice the continent's growth pace in the 1980s and ’90s. Africa is growing by leaps and bounds, and businesses and investors in the United States and Europe dare not overlook the annual collective spending power estimated at more than $1.3 trillion USD.

Here are some other impressive statistics about Africa:

-It has 60% of the world's undeveloped, arable land
-The continent holds 10% of the world's oil reserves, 40% of the world's gold and more than 80% of the chromium and the platinum metals
-Foreign direct investment increased from $9 billion in 2000 to $62 billion in 2008
-40% of Africa's one billion people live in cities
-Already the continent has more middle-class households than India (incomes of $20,000 or above)
-With more than 500 million people of working age, the labor force continues to expand and is expected to exceed 1.1 billion (more than in China or India) by 2040

Check out Checking Africa's Vital Signs, a part of McKinsey's June report on Africa for these and other astonishing statistics from the United Nations, World Bank and other great sources of macro-level data on Africa's great potential.