Recent growth has been due to growth in sales in commodities, services, and manufacturing. West Africa, East Africa, Central Africa and Southern Africa in particular, are expected to reach a combined GDP of $29 trillion by 2050.
In March 2013, Africa was identified as the world's poorest inhabited continent: Africa's entire combined GDP is barely a third of the United States' GDP; however, the World Bank expects that most African countries will reach "middle income" status (defined as at least US$1,000 per person a year) by 2025 if current growth rates continue. In 2013, Africa was the world's fastest-growing continent at 5.6 pc a year, and GDP is expected to rise by an average of over 6 pc a year between 2013 and 2023. In 2017, the African Development Bank reported Africa to be the world's second-fastest growing economy.
Several international business observers have also named Africa as the future economic growth engine of the world.
Africa's economy was diverse, driven by extensive trade routes that developed between cities and kingdoms. Some trade routes were overland, some involved navigating rivers, still others developed around port cities. Large African empires became wealthy due to their trade networks,
Some parts of Africa had close trade relationships with Arab kingdoms, and by the time of the Ottoman Empire, Africans had begun converting to Islam in large numbers. This development, along with the economic potential in finding a trade route to the Indian Ocean, brought the Portuguese to sub-Saharan Africa as an imperial force. Colonial interests created new industries to feed European appetites for goods such as palm oil, rubber, cotton, precious metals, spices, cash crops other goods, and integrated especially the coastal areas with the Atlantic economy.
Following the independence of African countries during the 20th century, economic, political and social upheaval consumed much of the continent. An economic rebound among some countries has been evident in recent years, however.
The dawn of the African economic boom (which is in place since the 2000s) has been compared to the Chinese economic boom that had emerged in Asia since late 1970s. In 2013, Africa was home to seven of the world's fastest-growing economies.
Africa Industrialization Day was established in 1990 and is the day when a large number of African governments and organisations gather to examine various different ways to stimulate the industrialisation process in Africa. This special day attracts a large amount of attention from around the world and special seminars, meetings and other types of events are held throughout Africa.
Although it can be seen that industrialisation in Africa is gradually increasing significantly behind many other parts of the world, which has an impact on Africa’s development and its ability to interact on a global level. Many of the events that take place on Africa Industrialisation Day are attended by national leaders and representatives. On this day, an effort is made to bring together the leaders of as many African countries as possible so that they are able to strive for common goals that benefit industrialization in Africa as a whole.