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Maritime trade is Africa’s lifeblood, but the continent is yet to reap the benefits.

West Africa, the world’s leading cocoa producer, is grappling with the aftermath of a disastrous 2016/17 cocoa season. Over the last year, international cocoa prices have collapsed by one-third to ₤1529 by end-August 2017. The drastic drop in prices reflects softening chocolate demand and a historically large cocoa crop from West Africa. The region is on track to produce an estimated crop of 3.44 million metric tonnes (MT), up 20% from the 2015/16 season. The impact of the cocoa price slump has been devastating. Cocoa farmers’ incomes were slashed, leading to panic in cocoa growing communities; government budgets were gutted with billions of dollars in losses from cocoa export earnings; and, child labour resurged on cocoa farms.

Electricity generation and distribution in Nigeria remains erratic. Only 50% of the population have access to electricity, and more than 90 million Nigerians – about the population of Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand combined – are without access to electricity. Access in rural areas is even worse with only 10% of the population having access.

Growth in the urban population of Africa can potentially lead to a US$1tn regional market for African producers by 2030. Agriculture and food processing are vital for creating this $1tn industry.

The economic growth rate in sub-Saharan Africa is projected to recover to 2.6% in 2017, following a net deceleration in 2016. According to the World Bank, the upturn in economic activity is expected to continue in 2018 and 2019, reflecting improvements in commodity prices, a pickup in global growth, and more supportive domestic conditions.

As trade and investment soars between the Gulf and Africa, member states of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) have been at the forefront of discovering and unlocking new opportunities.

Those travelling to Sudan need to ensure they’ve downloaded all the apps they’ll require during their visit before leaving, as some popular apps are inaccessible in the northeastern African country.

 

 

 

NTU-SBF Centre for African Studies

 

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Singapore 639798

 

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