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Africa's Dependence on Commodities Poses Challenges to its Development

Africa presents the world's largest untapped geographic opportunity. Behind Asia, Africa is the world's second biggest continent by land area, the second largest by population, and the second fastest growing economically. Considering the impact that the emergence of Asia has had on the world in the past 50 years, we can get a glimpse of the potential in the African continent.

To drive home the point about size, China, India, the contiguous U.S., and most of Europe combined could fit into the African landmass. Africa's population is also enormous. It's about 1.3 billion today, but that is expected to rise to 2.5 billion by 2050, at which point Africa will likely be the most populous continent in the world.

Africa is also the world's youngest continent with 630 million people who are 24 years or under, and it's the only region where the youth population is still rising.

But Africa's aggregate size masks the incredibly diverse array of markets hovering underneath. Only Nigeria, South Africa, and Egypt have the distinction of having populations above 50 million and generating GDP per capita above $5,000 in PPP terms in the whole continent. All the other markets are either small in population or small in GDP per capita or both.

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