Europe risks becoming ‘the largest open air museum’, whilst Africa’s growth has been ‘stellar’ – just two of the points made to around 90 guests at the recent Standard Bank breakfast seminar held by Chief Economist and Head of Research, Goolam Ballim.
The seminar entitled: Global and Africa Trends took account of the research Goolam and his team of 72 analysts perform for Standard Bank. There was positive news on the global economic outlook, assuming the USA is able to resolve its current financial impasse and raise its debt ceiling, with Europe and the UK expected to see more modest growth. Goolam warned, however, that the coming months could be difficult as the US Federal reserve tapers its programme of quantitative easing.
In Europe, whilst there are currently signs of optimism with modest growth, Goolam warned that there are several factors which mean the region is storing up trouble. These include high levels of debt, a declining working population, set to fall 14% or 30 million people over the next 20 years, and high unit labour costs.
By contrast, Goolam noted that Africa’s population is young and growing. Nigeria alone will grow from an estimated 180 million people to 230 million by the end of the decade. The median age in Africa is also 20 compared to Europe’s 40, and by 2050 it is estimated that 25% of the world’s population will be African.
Goolam also explained that Africa is “under-urbanised”, and its consumer markets are only just starting to develop. ‘Whilst there are as many fixed telephone lines in Africa as there were 13 years ago, back then there were only 20 million cellular phones, now there are 750 million – that is the kind of growth figures we are talking about, and so the potential becomes very clear.’
Mark Hucker, Chief Executive Officer, Standard Bank Jersey said the seminar had raised many interesting points: ‘The numbers involved are mind boggling and the potential of the continent is staggering. It is also very exciting to see the interest and support from Jersey businesses looking to grow African connections. Standard Bank operates in 18 African countries so we believe we are ideally placed to help and support those businesses’.
Goolam has been recognised as producing leading economic research on Africa. He is a past winner of South Africa’s top economist award and adviser to the country’s Minister of Economic Development and other public sector officials.
The seminar was held on Thursday 3rd October at the Pomme d’Or Hotel.