Congratulations to #AndrewSkipper and Hogan Lovells, for their Africa Forum 2022 – which considered the changes needed to push the continent towards a sustainable, accelerated growth.
Over the last two decades I have seen significant investment in infrastructure, and many Afritech start ups that that have leapfrogged Europe with is creaky legacy systems. Yet for the same period Africa’s GDP has remained at 3% of global trade, despite the population growth edging up from 15% to 16.7% of the global total.
At the Africa Forum, some of the missing pieces of the jigsaw fell into place, thanks to simple advice and evidence-based comments from economist Charlie Robertson.
Drawn on significant on-the-ground experience, in summary he noted that:
You need 40-50% literacy rates for sustainable growth.
You need 70-80% literacy rates to industrialise.
You also need a reliable source of cheap energy, and sustainable families that can invest in their own future, which requires education and healthcare.
If you have 6 children, you have no money left to save.
If you have 3 children, there is money left to save to support the family’s future.
According to Julia Faria, Statista’s research expert for Africa, as of 2019, West Africa had a literacy rate of only 51%, where as Southern Africa had a literacy rate of 80% and the rest of Africa at around 70%
In 2019, the average household size in Sub-Saharan Africa was 6.9 people per household, which was the largest average household size worldwide. Other research showed that women deprived of an education in sub-Saharan Africa in the 1980s, went on to have as many or more children than previous, more educated generations.
All this shows that Africa can progress and industrialise, when literacy rates increase, so that family sizes reduce, and there is the access to reliable, and cheap energy.