Stronger economies and troubled politics sum up the reports in Africa Confidential’s first two issues of the year, which focus on events and developments ahead. The International Monetary Fund still forecasts African growth at over 6% for 2014 – and mergers and acquisition deals in Africa were up a third to US$30 billion last year. Amidst the cheerleading for this economic revival, the brightest time since the immediate post-Independence era of the 1960s, bankers and politicians are less worried about the medium term or even the tough policy decisions that have to be taken in the short term. Politics and economics intersect again.
Slowly, Africa’s growth story is changing the continent’s international image; it is also prompting many people from the countryside to head for the cities to seek new economic opportunities. Outside the rush to China’s coastal provinces, this flood of migrants to Africa’s cities is probably the world’s biggest population shift.
Unlike Asia, where rural migrants find jobs in an industrialising economy, most of Africa’s migrants end up in the informal economy and frustrated by the lack of services. Although these informal jobs may provide a social safety net, they cannot substitute for a government’s lack of economic strategy, industrial policy and good infrastructure. These new migrants and their eonomic demands will change the nature of urban politics across Africa, in the same way as they did three years ago in North Africa.