Smart money is on East African growth

Michael Power argues that the industrialisation of Africa will be led by East Africa, not by SA or Nigeria

GIBS Information Centre / GIBSIC‘s insight:

East Africa n-  Africa’s new economy is taking root in Eastern Africa, with Kenya and Ethiopia at the forefront and Tanzania and Uganda reinforcing this emerging regional cluster of more than 300m people. Reversing the trends of the post-independence, post-1960 era, it is Africa inside the tropics — Middle Africa — much more than the north or south that is now recording the highest levels of GDP growth.

For those not hidebound by the narrative of recent history, this should not be so surprising. After all, East Africa is closest to Asia, and not just geographically. The Indian Ocean has connected the continents’ littoral regions for over 2000 years: the earliest inhabitants of Madagascar made their way there from Borneo some 400 years before the birth of Christ.  –   Eastern Africa’s lingua franca, Swahili, draws heavily on the longstanding trade links it has with the Arabian Peninsula: swahel means “coastal” in Arabic. Its coastal strip is also overwhelmingly Muslim, practising (except perhaps in the failed state of Somalia) a far more approachable, less militant form of Islam.

Indeed, East Africa has traded extensively with Asia for millennia; 900-year-old coins from Kilwa, East Africa, have been found on the Wessel Islands off the coast of Australia.

China’s links with the shores of the Western Seas — as ancient Chinese writers called the Indian Ocean — extend far back. The frequency and extent of their visits picked up some 800 years ago. 


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