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Analysis: Why Africa matters to the world in shaping the future

Abone Ol 

As the 21st century’s emerging continent, Africa garners global attention. With vital contributions, they continue a prime investment for leading nations in competition’s power centers

Amid rising interest from the Global North and South in Africa, there is a compounding effect. However, this competition of interest can sometimes exacerbate tensions and instabilities in various African countries, impacting political stability. The peculiarities in the methods of this competition of interest lead to diverse evaluations, debates, and approaches among African opinion leaders, prominent political figures, civil society organizations, and representative bodies of African communities. Broadly, there is a trust deficit in Africa from the Global North, notably Europe, leading to a conspicuous reputation problem for Europe. As a result, G-20 nations’ endeavors for Africa’s energy and digital transformation naturally elevate the value of Africa’s abundant natural resources and underground wealth.

So, why Africa?

Let’s begin with its magnetic demographic future. With a current population of 1.4 billion, Africa is projected to make up a remarkable 39% of the global population by 2100, reaching 4.4 billion. While presently hovering around $2,500, Africa’s per capita income is set to rise to an average of $4,400 in the 2025-2035 period, $11,200 in the 2046-2055 period, and $17,200 in the 2056-2065 period.

Looking ahead to 2100, the average purchasing power of 4.4 billion Africans will surge to $20,000. During this time, as Asia commands a distinct high-income consumption segment, Africa’s middle-income status will propel significant demand for consumption and enhanced quality of life. This panorama holds substantial market implications for global industries like automotive, appliances, furniture and apparel.

Digital, energy transformation

However, in the event of global competition in digital and energy transformation between 2025 and 2060, Africa’s significance as a vital supplier of key elements like critical minerals and rare earth elements cannot be understated. This places Africa at the forefront of investment considerations for leading nations within the focal points of global competition. The central challenge lies in whether Africa can fully capitalize on the supply of critical minerals and elements that make up the backbone of these transformations. It’s essential to create a “win-win” scenario that allows Africa to genuinely benefit from the value generated by its abundant underground resources.

Africa presently furnishes 60% of the world’s cobalt supply, 17% of its uranium supply, 37% of the global demand for chrome (chromites), 23% of the manganese supply, and meets 25% of phosphate demand. Moreover, Africa holds a share ranging from 3% to 7% in various minerals, with an 18% contribution to the gold supply. Remarkably, Africa holds 37% of the world’s gold reserves and is responsible for 49% of the diamond supply and 53% of diamond reserves.

Nearly half of the world’s arable land for agriculture, 45%, is in Africa alone. According to data from the United Nations’ food agency, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), 60% of untapped land suitable for agriculture on a global scale is also in Africa. Therefore, in the upcoming years, as Asia’s population grows to 5.3 billion by 2060 and to 4.9 billion by 2100, Africa is an indispensable continent for ensuring Asia’s food supply security. Africa also holds the distinction of being one of the world’s critical suppliers for the pharmaceutical industry, thanks to its ecosystems, vegetation, and biodiversity richness.

Suppose the Global North and South are to undergo a sincerity test for Africa’s sustainable development through a “green energy transformation.” In that case, they must find a way to engage in their competition without dragging Africa into instability and chaos.

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