Checking Africa’s vital signs

| Article

Africa’s 50-plus economies are growing at a remarkable pace: across the region, real GDP increased by an average of 4.9 percent a year between 2000 and 2008, compared with just 2.4 percent a year during the 1990s. Moreover, a number of African governments have undertaken structural reforms in recent years that are making their economies more attractive to investors. Indeed, the annual flow of foreign direct investment (FDI) into Africa in 2008 increased to $62 billion, from $9 billion in 2000. Relative to GDP, that is almost as large as the flow into China. This increased FDI accounted for the bulk of new African capital inflows, which grew rapidly from 2000 to 2008.

Nonetheless, quickening economic growth cannot obscure the continent’s significant problems—among them, high levels of poverty, political instability, poor education, excessive government bureaucracy, and corruption. In addition, Africans must improve both the quality and accessibility of health care and address the sustainability of resources.

To put these opportunities and challenges into context, we offer this interactive snapshot of selected data highlighting the region’s demographics, economics, and business climate.

The mineral resources map in this interactive was updated on June 8 to correct an error in the map’s key. A previous version inaccurately displayed which countries have more than one resource holding in the top ten globally.