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North Africa can lead growth as family size shrinks, debt fears recede

By David Whitehouse
Posted on Monday, 13 September 2021 12:59

African leaders at the G20 Compact with Africa meeting in Berlin, August 27, 2021. REUTERS/Michele Tantussi

Signs that an African debt crisis has been averted and the prospect of a demographic shift to smaller family sizes mean that North Africa can lead a period of rapid economic growth across the continent, Charles Robertson, chief economist at Renaissance Capital, tells The Africa Report.

North Africa, which is well supplied with power, is the first region likely to industrialise, led by Morocco and Egypt, Robertson says in London.

Robertson challenges the conventional wisdom that a young workforce is necessarily a good thing. More important, he argues, is how many children those young people are going to have. A family size of five or children, he says, means that all of a family’s income has to be used to meet immediate needs. That makes it impossible for a large savings pool to be created, meaning that banks are unable to cheaply finance either the private sector or government.