A woman uses an ATM machine at the Kenya Commercial Bank SIMON MAINA/AFP/Getty Images

Africa’s Arrival

According to a new report by the African Development Bank, the continent's 54 countries grew by 2.2%, on average, in 2016, and 3.6% in 2017; in 2018, the AfDB report predicts, growth will accelerate to 4.1%, supported by some of the world's fastest-growing economies. Has Africa's moment finally arrived?

NEW YORK – The African Development Bank (AfDB) has just published its African Economic Outlook for 2018. This year’s revamped publication – shorter than usual, analytically well-structured, and written in lucid prose, without hyperbole – in some ways mirrors Africa’s own transformation, as it raises hopes that we may at last be witnessing the continent’s long-promised economic arrival.

Africa’s rise has been a long time coming. In the 1960s, hopes were high. The remarkable leaders of the independence generation – such as Ghana’s Kwame Nkrumah and Kenya’s Jomo Kenyatta – received advice from the world’s top economists. The Caribbean-born Nobel laureate Arthur Lewis became Nkrumah’s Chief Economic Adviser.

In India, we read about these leaders’ friendship with our own post-independence prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, and the hope for a new dawn for all emerging economies. And many emerging economies did indeed take off. In the late 1960s, some East Asian economies surged ahead. Beginning in the early 1980s, China began its decades-long rise. And, from the early 1990s, India’s economy also began to grow robustly, with annual rates reaching the 9% range by 2005.