What Will Africa Be Like in 2060?

25/10/2011
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What does the future hold for Africa in 50 years’ time? The African Development Bank (AfDB) and the French Agency for Development (AFD) have been looking far into the future to explore what the continent will be like in 2060.  

They have looked at population trends, economic trends and challenges, climate change, natural resources and the prospects for African integration.

The result is a report called Africa in 50 Years’ Time – The Road towards Inclusive Growth, prepared by the AfDB.

The main forecasts are a decline in conflict, more urbanization, more migration and less reliance on agriculture.

The future, as always, is shrouded in uncertainty. But many of the trends that will determine Africa’s future prospects are already visible today. So we can begin to identify the challenges and opportunities that lie before us. Thus, the main objective of the studies is to reduce uncertainties, to anticipate the changes and to explore the possibilities and prospects for Africa by determining the possible paths, defining all the constraints and identifying the likely scenarios.  

The report builds on the wider studies being undertaken by the two institutions. It identifies the drivers of change and their likely consequences over the next half century, and proposes policy choices to help Africa to fulfill its future potential.

Major conclusions coming out of the analysis indicate that by 2060, gradual exogenous changes will have transformed the opportunities and challenges facing Africa in at least six dimensions.
Urbanization will accelerate. Migration will increase. Agriculture may well decline, both in relative and absolute importance. Natural resources will remain an important part of the development picture and a major development challenge. Some African economies may have learned to compete globally, and conflicts will continue to diminish but not wholly disappear.

The report argues that how individual economies in Africa respond to these challenges will depend on the choices they make, individually and collectively.

Broadly, countries in the region need to respond by investing in their cities, managing migration, transforming agriculture, managing their natural resources better, and making concerted efforts to break in at the bottom of the global market in goods and services.

Collective action – by Africans, themselves, in the form of deeper regional integration, and by the international community in the form of improved performance on trade and aid – must support the efforts of individual counties.