Africa Brief: Market Access for Smallholder Producers in East and Southern Africa (December 2013)
Following two decades of near stagnation, Africa’s growth performance has improved enormously since the start of the 21st century. Since 2000 the continent has seen a prolonged, sustained growth trend. The global financial crisis and steep food and fuel prices slowed growth in 2009 from an average of 5.6% in 2002–2008 to 2.2%, but Africa quickly recovered with growth of even more than 5.0% in 2012 despite the general global slowdown. This remarkable performance is supported by a variety of factors, such as surging domestic demand associated with rising incomes and urbanization, increased public spending (especially on infrastructure) and bumper harvests in some regions.
But this impressive growth has yet not translated into faster social development. African nations usually are at the bottom of any list measuring small-size economic activity. In 2012, some 34 of 45 nations identified as having “Low Human Development” on the United Nations Human Development Index were in Sub-Sahara Africa. Among the last 25 positions, 23 were occupied by African countries, all of the ten poorest ones being in Africa. Despite large quantities of arable land south of the Sahara, many African nations have become net importers of food.