Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Perspectives: Is Brazil more significant than the whole of Africa?

This one took me a while to get over... it's one thing to look at SA compared to the rest of the world, but we also need to consider this continent that we are a part of and see where that fits into the global picture.

Firstly some quick background information. A list of 181 countries in terms of 2006 GDP [in US$ terms] is headed by the European Union at $14.5 trillion, followed by the USA at $13.2 trillion. Together these two make up almost 58% of the total world GDP of $48.1 trillion. The rest of the top 10 includes other countries such as Japan and Germany and ends with Brazil in 10th, which has a GDP of just over $1 trillion.

How does Africa fare compared to this lot?

Just look at the global perspective - here's a comparison between Brazil and Africa in three distinct ways: [Brazil on the left, Africa as a whole on the right]

Land area


Wealth generated [GDP]

Incredible! Africa consists of 53 countries. Brazil is one country. Despite being only about a quarter the size of Africa in terms of land area and population, Brazil as a country generated as much wealth in 2006 as the whole of Africa did. And Brazil is also an 'emerging market economy', like South Africa is.

The big question, with this information in mind - what opportunities does this present to Africa [and South Africa]? Where Africa has historically relied on natural resources and labour to generate wealth, surely these statistics indicate that this isn't working.

How do you change the economic focus of an entire continent over a relatively short period? What do we need to do to change these circumstances? How can we create the possibility of exponential growth? These are all questions that need to be answered for Africa [and South Africa] to better position itself for the future.

Perhaps technology offers us a part of the solution? What do you think?

You can find my other posts in this theme here -> Perspectives



Grant Brewer said...

It would be interesting to understand what contributes to the GDP of Brasil and that makes it so much more than successful than the whole of Africa. I should search around for an analysis.

Darren said...

Good point Grant, it would be very interesting to see. Last week's Fortune had a piece on Brazil indicating that a lot of it relates [ironically] to energy.

Thanks for commenting, I'll see what I can dig out and would appreciate any further input you have on this.