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Will President Obama Find a Rising Africa on his Upcoming Trip?

Bustling market in Casamance, Senegal

As U.S. President Barack Obama and his family head out to Sub Saharan Africa this week, they will find a continent many thoughtful economists believe is on the rise.

A recent report by the International Monetary Fund found that Sub Saharan Africa’s growth rate in 2012 was 5.1 percent and is projected to rise to 5.7 percent by 2014. Poverty rates have dropped by 10 percent a year over the last decade. Should we and the first family be optimistic?

Antoinette Monsio Sayeh, the IMF’s Africa director, thinks so. She recently said that low inflation, more investment by private companies, reduced conflict, and a movement toward democratic elections bode well for the continent.

But there are risks—African economies are affected by world economic growth, climate uncertainties, and price fluctuations for oil and other exports. Also, while poverty is dropping in Sub Saharan Africa, it remains the highest anywhere in the world.  Half of Africa’s people live in poverty. Unemployment remains a chronic problem as the number of young people in Sub Saharan Africa continues to grow (nearly 297 million people—almost a third of the population—are between the ages of 10-24), and safe, sustainable jobs are limited.

President Obama will visit Senegal, Tanzania, and South Africa—countries in the western, eastern, and southern regions of the continent, respectively.  Aid for Africa members are working with their partners in these countries to support vocational training, small business creation, quality education, and other initiatives critical to reducing poverty and unemployment.  We are optimistic and think President Obama will be too.

To learn more about Aid for Africa members working in Senegal, Tanzania, and South Africa, go to our map, roll your cursor over the country and click. A list of our members will come up.  You may also refine your search by selecting the issue: Community & Economic Development.