September 2015

Report: Africa is projected to have just one low income country by 2050

Large infrastructure gaps, climate change, high speed of urbanization, and a youthful and rapidly growing population will influence the future pace of growth

Most African countries that today are considered low income will transition to middle income within 15 years, and all but one will be middle income by 2050, according to the Annual Trends and Outlook Report (ATOR), released today.

growthThe ATOR, released by the Regional Strategic Analysis and Knowledge Support System (ReSAKSS), a program facilitated by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), examines the current and future trends that are likely to shape the trajectory of African economies. As the second-fastest growing region in the world, Africa has enjoyed robust economic growth in recent years. However, that progress has not been enough to make up for the lost decades of economic stagnation that preceded the recent recovery. And secondly, the benefits of this growth have not trickled down to the wider population. Today too many people experience poverty and food scarcity.

“While the recent growth performance is encouraging, African counties still face major challenges in terms of reducing poverty and eliminating hunger and malnutrition,” said Ousmane Badiane, IFPRI Director for Africa. “This report shows that policymakers need to continue to refine policies, improve institutions and increase investments to sustain and accelerate the pace of growth as well as its inclusivity or broadness—and the outcomes of their decisions can be the difference between persistent poverty and future shared prosperity for many of Africa’s most vulnerable populations.”

The report found:

I. Africa south of the Sahara is projected to experience more sustained economic growth in GDP per capita between now and 2030 and 2050.

II. By 2050, climate change will result in a 25% increase in cereal prices compared with a no climate change scenario.

III. Trends that are likely to influence the trajectory of African economies include:


o   more volatile food and energy prices;

o   rapid urbanization, increasing incomes, and the rise of a middle class;

o   rapid increase in a young population entering the labor force;

o   greater climate variability; and

o   agriculture as the largest source of employment.

IV. African diets are changing in response to rapid urbanization and the rise of a middle class. Fifty percent of Africa’s population is projected to live in urban areas by 2020. Processed food now represents a significant share of food purchases, even for the rural poor. Diets have also diversified beyond grains into horticulture, dairy, livestock, fish, and pulses.

V. Structural change in Africa is now contributing to productivity growth. Africa’s informal goods and services sector (e.g., home goods and handicraft production, and food staples processing) is emerging steadily, and must play a major role in future growth and industrialization.

VI. Industrialization in Africa has been weak, and has contributed little to Africa’s recent growth. A new industrial strategy needs to focus on investing in infrastructure, especially energy, transport, and water supply.

“As envisaged under the African Union Malabo Declaration, transforming African economies will need ensuring that future growth1growth is broad based and inclusive, especially of women and youth, a critical component of the Africa We Want as depicted in the Africa Agenda 2063,” said Her Excellency Tumusiime Rhoda Peace, Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture of the African Union Commission (AUC). ‘‘This is a sure way for wealth to be created and jobs to be generated,” she added.

The report was released today at the ReSAKSS conference organized by AUC and IFPRI in Addis Ababa. Read the report on the ReSAKSS website.


My Culture is not Couture: Angelina by Vlisco

After it was tailored and worn by an African-American teenager to her prom, and by many African-American celebrities, the Dashiki fabric, known in Ghana as “Angelina”, has suddenly become popular in the mainstream Western culture; so popular that everywhere one goes, every store one shops, there are attempts to recreate the design of this well known African textile.
Recently the Angelina fabric caught the attention of many people of African and Non-African descent, after the fiasco of ELLE Canada magazine, which defines the fabric as the “[…] newest It-item of note”; and if anyone has a basic understanding of this material, there would be questions about which part of the Dashiki is new, the design or the cut.


Since the fiasco, ELLE Canada has taken the tweet down as an acknowledgement of its mistake; however the problem still remains. See, this incident occurred when Bantu knots were “discovered” by Marc Jacobs, according to a clearly uninformed fashion blogger, and when Louis Vuitton capitalised on the Ghana must go bags during its fashion shows.
Apart from the misconception that the Agelina fabric is a Western African invention, the problem with this incident fuses into the idea of cultural appreciation becoming cultural appropriation, with total lack of credit to whom credit is due, i.e. Black people.


In order to recognise the danger in the perpetuation of this narrative of cultural appropriation, it is important for People of Colour to educate themselves, and understand the structures of social power that enables stories like the above. This education needs to start at home, so we can truly grasp the fact that our culture and system of traditions are not “new”, “trendy”, “edgy” or product of Western ideologies, destined to be passè when the “First World” is done consuming it.


The hi(story) of the Angelina fabric is richer and stronger than a “trend”, and knowing it is the master key to challenge those notions of cultural appropriation. It was created by a Vlisco’s textile designer around 1960s, based on the pattern of the 19th century Ethiopian noble women’s tunic, which was inspired the design of Chinese silks. The fabric is very popular in East Africa, but its demand was also established in West Africa.
To know and acknowledge the history behind the textile is to truly understand how rooted and whole, and independent our heritage is; it is to nurture a sense of pride when it is appreciated, and call out those who appropriate it.

By Benjamina E. Dadzie