Photo: Peter Crowther

The 2012 outlook

Published:  05 January, 2012

Influential thinkers assess Africa’s prospects for the next 12 months

Politically Africa has had a momentous year. What started as street protests in Tunisia in December 2010 has morphed into a seemingly unstoppable torrent of popular uprisings that have fundamentally reshaped North Africa. South of the Sahara the political landscape has been less tumultuous; yet in a year that saw 27 countries hold crucial national and local elections, the need for increased moves towards political openness has been re-enforced by the experience of their North African counterparts.

Economically – with the exception of North Africa – it has largely been a year of success. At 5.25 percent, average growth for Africa has bounced back with impressive speed from the 2008-2009 crisis. Diversification of economies is increasing with consumer markets, manufacturing and services growing steadily. Nevertheless, the looming risk of a renewed global slowdown as a result of Europe’s sovereign debt crisis presents African policy makers – barely recovering from the 2008-09 shock – with a daunting challenge in the year ahead.

This Is Africa’s 2012 outlook assesses the continent’s political and economic prospects for the next twelve months, and how countries are likely to face these challenges. At its core is a sentiment survey in which we question influential economists, investment professionals and academics on their expectations. The respondents were surveyed on a broad range of key themes and issues, including growth predictions, sector and country performance and the macroeconomic and policy environment. Their responses were aggregated and are presented here through qualitative analysis of likely political and economic trends of 2012. This is organised into two sections, focused on the political and economic landscape respectively. Given the difficulty of predicting economic performance in North Africa in the wake of the events of 2011, the region’s prospects are considered primarily from the political perspective.



Shanta Devarajan, chief economist for Africa at the World Bank

Stefan Dercon, chief economist at the UK’s Department for International Development

Graham Stock, chief strategist of Insparo Asset Management

Paul Collier, professor of economics and director of the Centre for the Study of African Economies at Oxford University

Prathiba Thacker, director of the Africa department at the Economist Intelligence Unit

Jonathan Copper, managing director, Middle East & Africa at the FTSE Group

Robert Bates, Eaton professor in the Department of Government, Harvard University

Henri-Bernard Solignac-Lecomte, head of the OECD’s operations effectiveness unit

Mthuli Ncube, chief economist of the African Development Bank

Kem Ihenacho, partner with Clifford Chance

Ravi Bhatia, associate director at S&P Razia Khan, head of research for Africa at Standard Chartered Bank

Theodoor Sparreboom, senior labour economist at the ILO

David Cowan, Africa economist at Citigroup

Zin Bekkali, CEO of Silk Invest

Jean-Loďc Guieze, senior economist at BNP Paribas

Dirk Willem te Welde, head of the investment and growth programme at the Overseas Development Institute

Costas Vayenas, head of emerging markets research, wealth management research, UBS

Stephen Bailey-Smith, head of research: Africa, Standard Bank

Acha Leke, partner at McKinsey

Ibukun Adebayo, head of business development for South Asia, Middle East and Africa at the London Stock Exchange

Writing by Lanre Akinola and Adam Green. Research by David Anderton and Priya Sreenivasan

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“There is a regional consensus that the crisis cannot be allowed to affect regional development”

Ali Moshiri

“Africa probably has more resources than any place you can imagine”

Lamido Sanusi

“There can never be soft touch regulation. But it has to be regulation that is not arbitrary. The direction needs to be clear”

Luc Duval

“Africa has lots of potential – raw materials and young people – but it needs FDI”

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