African Lion Economies Gear up to Emulate Asia

Continent's middle class is growing rapidly, but politics and corruption continue to threaten business growth.

ThankGod Agbagu views the paved roads and skyscrapers that have sprung up in Lagos, Africa’s largest city, as the signs of a brighter future.

“That’s development, progress,” the 30-year-old tailor said in a July 30 phone interview from Nigeria’s commercial capital. “I definitely see many opportunities out there. Things may not really get better in my lifetime, but maybe it will for those that come after us.”

In Nigeria, Boko Haram rebels have been fighting security forces for the past five years in a bid to impose Islamic law. The violence, which has spilled into neighboring Cameroon, claimed more than 2,053 lives in the first half of this year, according to New York-based Human Rights Watch.

Conflicts have also been raging in South Sudan, the Central African Republic, and Somalia, while an al-Qaeda-linked militant group, al-Shabaab, has staged attacks in Kenya, killing dozens of people.

While Islamist militant violence is on the rise in Africa, it doesn’t pose the same threat to stability and growth as civil wars and violent coups, which are on the decline, according to Mark Rosenberg, Africa director at Eurasia Group in New York.

“A longer-term risk to the ‘Africa Rising’ scenario is the potential for jobless growth,” Rosenberg said in an emailed response to questions on July 25. “It’s not yet clear that current growth paths will create jobs for newly urban citizens with higher expectations and access to more information.”

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