This picture showing the world in terms of GDPs introduces the “real” dimensions of Africa. Despite its extension, the dark continent, from Morocco to South Africa, through Mauritius and San Tomé, is worth only 3% of world’s GDP – less worth than France and a little bit more than Italy. Its land covers 30% of our planet, with a low demographic density – only 33 inhabitants per square kilometre. We are talking about a giant, from a territorial point of view, but of an irrelevant midget in terms of economy.
After years of lethargy, from 2000 to 2010 the continent underwent an important development, thanks to the exportation of its raw materials. From 2011 to 2015, the increase in the GDP was relevant, even if it was slowed down by the effects of the world recession and of the Arab Spring.
Raw materials attract foreign powers, incentivizing a new dynamism, which has started to give positive effects for African development. The one who better noticed the development potentials of this continent was China, which, from the 1980s, has supported those African countries which had moved away from western countries for ideological or economic reasons. China has been so careful and focused that it has become one of the biggest investors in the dark continent and, in the meantime, the most trustful and skilled importer: two thirds of crude oil produced by Nigeria, Angola, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo are given to China. At the same time, Africa receives from China some benefits which no other countries can give it and these benefits come through three ways: the purchases of the state – petroleum and natural resources -, roads and infrastructure built by Chinese companies – often state-controlled ones -, factories opened on African lands by private companies which entered the outsourcing market – most of them are shoes’ and textiles’ factories.
Today economic data show some recovery and the increase’s percentages are astonishing, but unfortunately the starting basis from which they are calculated is very low.