A refreshingly accessible AfDB book tracks Africa’s progress through figures

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Here’s an interesting fact: Africa has 52 cities with populations of one million or higher – the same number as for Europe.

Here’s another one: Since 2005, 20 countries in Africa are among the top 50 most-improved world economies in business regulatory efficiency.

Every now and then a statistics book comes along that breaks the mould to show real imagination in delivering what often is presented as fairly dry information. Tracking Africa’s Progress in Figures, published free of charge by the African Development Bank, is one such book.

Its beauty lies in part in the way the information is presented. The numbers, the charts and the graphs that readers would expect are all here. What’s different is that they’re all visually delivered in a way that makes the information very accessible and all of the statistical information comes with highly readable and concise explanations to put things into context.

It’s the intelligent use of colours, design, icons and illustrations that help to bring this 70-page publication to life. Six chapters cover the various themes that the AfDB has largely been dealing with since it was created in 1964, although the terms used to describe this work have evolved over time and some new ones have been added:

  • Human development;
  • Economic performance, inclusiveness and structural transformation;
  • Governance, fragility and security;
  • Regional integration, trade and investment;
  • Infrastructure development; and
  • Agriculture, food security and a greener environment.

In part, the publication’s goal is to provide a view of the past to give a clearer sense of the present, but it also seeks to give a look at what’s to come. As the AfDB’s Chief Economist and Vice-President, Mthuli Ncube, writes in the foreword: “Over the last few decades, Africa has embarked on a process of transformation and growth. The African Development Bank’s Tracking Africa’s Progress in Figures report aims to identify the ‘megatrends’ which, together with other drivers of change, will shape Africa’s future.”

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