¿Adónde van los “mercados fronterizos” de África?

NUEVA YORK – Parece que las elecciones de Zimbabwe confirman una vez más un tópico. Parece que África sólo aparece en los titulares internacionales cuando se ve golpeada por desastres: una sequía, un golpe de Estado, una guerra, un genocidio o, ciomo en el caso de Robert Mugabe, un gobienro flagrantemente incompetente, pero en los últimos años varios países subsaharianos han atraído corrientes de capital extranjero sin precedentes. La reciente agitación financiera mundial no ha hecho sino contribuir al atractivo de África, porque sus mercados fronterizos son menos vulnerables a la volatilidad internacional que la mayoría de las economías en ascenso más destacadas del mundo.

Hay tres razones principales por las que muchos países subsaharianos están teniendo buenos resultados. En primer lugar, los altos precios de las materias primas producen beneficios extraordinarios para los principales productores de materias primas de la región. El aumento de la demanda de energía, metales y minerales –en particular en China– ha aportado niveles de inversión extranjera sin precedentes. Incluso los grandes fondos de pensiones están empezando a prestarles atención. Además, un gran número de países más pobres de África se han beneficiado del exponencial aumento de la filantropía (principalmente de la de los Estados Unidos).

Pero, si bien es probable que continúen esas dos tendencias positivas, un tercer factor positivo puede resultar menos duradero. Todos los años, los africanos que viven fuera del continente envían unos 30.000 millones de dólares a sus familias y amigos de sus países. Esos envíos revisten importancia decisiva para la estabilidad económica de varios países africanos. Una desaceleración económica en los EE.UU. y en Europa podría aminorar en gran medida esa inyección de dinero, porque, cuando cunde el miedo a la recesión, los inmigrantes suelen ser los primeros que pierden sus puestos de trabajo .

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