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The Success Of Africa's Exports

Sep 17, 2008
Despite many being under the impression that success stories of African exporters are confined to Maghreb countries, such as Tunisia and Morocco, exports in sub-Saharan Africa are far from marginal for some product groups.

For the fifth year in a row, the North Africa region experienced growth at a rate higher than 5% per year (5.7% in 2007), exceeding the levels reached in the 1990s and early 2000s. During 2007, gross domestic product (GDP) growth was almost evenly distributed across the sub-groups of the region.

Traditionally a commodity exporter, Africa has diversified into industrial goods and services. Tunisia is a good example of Africa's emerging growth areas. Exports of electronic components have passed the US$ 500 million mark, expanding at annual rates of 22% for several years. In clothing, despite fierce global competition, Tunisia has been able to increase its market share. It now ranks eighth among 184 countries in the Trade Performance Index for clothing, reflecting exports of US$ 2.5 billion to a diversified group of countries. Mauritius, Africa's other major clothing exporter, has also increased its world market share, supplying garments worth US$ 1 billion.

The sources of growth for North Africa have undergone a shift in recent years. In the period 2000-04, the main source of growth was domestic private consumption.  However, by 2007, this had declined in importance and had been replaced by gross domestic investment.  Much of this was made possible by plentiful government revenues obtained from a buoyant hydrocarbons sector. Oil prices increased 78 percent during the course of 2007, rising from $54 per barrel at the start of the year to $94.50 at the end. 

Southern Africa too, has also joined the ranks of the world's leading trading areas. In five out of the 14 sectors covered by the Trade Performance Index, the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) figures among the world's top 15 exporters. Transport equipment is one example, where SACU ranks ninth, with exports of US$ 1.4 billion.

Despite the successes of Africa's exporters in recent years and projections of an average yearly growth of 5.6% over the next three years, many northern African countries, including Sudan, Morocco and Angola, still face economic instability, with much of the population in the aforementioned countries living well below the poverty line.

Initiatives such as the Community Trade programme make sure workers in north Africa and other regions are paid fairly for the production of goods that are then exported but with food prices expected to remain high and with most countries in the region subsidising food and energy, this may lead to fiscal problems for many of those who live within the north Africa region but are not expected to stunt economic growth.
About the Author
Paul McIndoe writes for a digital marketing agency. This article has been commissioned by a client of said agency. This article is not designed to promote, but should be considered professional content.
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