Young men and women chat along the glittering corridors of the sprawling shopping complex. With state-of-the-art mobile communication gadgets in hand, they go in and out of the mall’s 65 shops, filling shopping bags with expensive items.
There is a large and well-equipped children’s playground at the back. Fully air-conditioned, the mall has 20,000 square metres of retail space, a theatre, restaurants, bars and parking for 900 cars. Welcome to the Accra Mall in Ghana, one of West Africa’s best – and comparable to any mall in the world.
In Ghana, as in many other African countries, young people are living out the continent’s economic growth. They are educated and relatively well-off, as seen in their cars, dress and homes. Ghana’s economy grew by an impressive 14.4 per cent in 2011, while many African economies are expected to be among the world’s fastest-growing in 2012, according to the World Bank. Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria, Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and others will lead the charge.
Undoubtedly Africa is still bedevilled by poverty, with half of its people living on less than $2 a day. However, its economic growth over the past decade has been striking.
A hopeful continent
“There is a new story emerging out of Africa: a story of growth, progress, potential and profitability,” reports Ernst & Young, a US-based business consulting company. Johnnie Carson, the US secretary of state for African affairs, adds: “Africa represents the next global economic frontier.” Investors had better be aware, advises Mr. Carson, who recently led a US trade delegation to Mozambique, Tanzania, Ghana and Nigeria. China’s trade with Africa reached $160 billion in 2011, making the continent one of its largest trading partners.
Ten years earlier, in 2000, The Economist saw no reason for hope. It pronounced Africa “the hopeless continent,” noting problems that included a bloody civil war in Sierra Leone, famine in Ethiopia and political conflict in Zimbabwe. But last December…
Read more: All Africa