Africa’s Regional Exports Show Ongoing Colonial Legacy
Africa is undoubtedly one of the richest regions in terms of natural resources. According to the United Nations, the continent is home to about 30 percent of the world’s mineral reserves, 12 percent of its oil and 8 percent of its natural gas.
This map reflects this richness, with gold being the chief exported product in terms of value in 16 out of the 54 countries, followed by oil in eleven of them. However, the chart also underscores the ongoing colonial legacy on the continent today, as raw material exports (and imports of finished products) still dominate Africa’s trade. Value-added industries, like car making, shipbuilding or electrical equipment only make up the most valuable export goods in a handful of African countries, namely Morocco (cars), Tunisia (electrical equipment), Seychelles (boats) and Sao Tome and Principe (turbines).
While exports of raw materials have benefited some African economies, diversification of income sources can drive national incomes. This is already being seen in Nigeria, which is home to vast natural gas and oil reserves, and came out on top for African countries with the highest gross domestic product (GDP) in 2021. This success was also attributable to the country’s rapidly expanding financial sector, which grew from one percent of the total GDP in 2001 to ten percent in 2018.
While not shown on this map, other industries are also booming as African countries’ economies diversify. For instance, the Statista dossier ‘The Rise of E-commerce Across Africa’ found that the continent is expected to have more than 850 million internet users by 2030, growing from 520 million users in 2021, and that this growth will come with an increased demand for online services such as internet banking and e-commerce.
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Africa is well represented within the Commonwealth grouping of some 2.4 billion people who experienced British colonialism. To what extent does it benefit?