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African economy expected to grow on back of remittances, natural resources

Though some parts of Africa are performing fairly well economically, most are in worse shape. However, a new study indicates that through remittance flows and sound governmental policies, the continent's economic growth could jump significantly.

The African Development Bank, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the United Nations Development Programme and the UN Economic Commission for Africa recently released a joint report forecasting Africa's financial vitality.If things continue at their current pace, Africa's economy could expand by 4.5 percent in 2012 and another 4.8 percent in 2013.

"The economic outlook for Africa remains optimistic," the report stated. "Natural resource-rich economies are expected to do better than more mature emerging economies."

Some of the most common natural resources exported in Africa include oil, gold, precious metals, diamonds, cocoa and timber.

The 291-page report also attributed much of Africa's growth to remittances, as many people who emigrate from Africa send money home to their families thanks to the jobs they have in countries like the United States. This enables them to pay for goods and services that they need on a day-to-day basis

Despite the overall positive assessment and projection, Donald Kaberuka, president of the AfDB, said the global economy is still on shaky ground, meaning that experiencing economic growth is far from a guarantee.

"I appeal for caution and not to show excessive optimism with regard to the continent's economic growth, because there are other issues that need to be considered carefully," said Kaberuka.

In addition to the ongoing debt crisis affecting much of Europe, political upheaval has impacted Africa, citing Mali as a specific example. This could also detract Africa from gaining ground.

The AfDB report indicated that because Africa's economic potential largely relies on the wealth natives and citizens obtain through their work, the continent must put a greater investment in tomorrow's workers.

"The youth is the most important wealth of Africa," said Kaberuka.

He added that with the number of youth in Africa projected to double in 30 years from now, governmental leaders of countries should put a greater emphasis on helping young people acquire new skills so that they can find the jobs they need to support themselves and their families. 

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