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JOHANNESBURG — Across sub-Saharan Africa, consumer demand is fueling the continent’s economies in new ways, driving hopes that Africa will emerge as a success story in the coming years comparable to the rise of the East Asian Tigers in the second half of the 20th century.
After seeing years of uninterrupted economic expansion across Africa, governments, analysts and investors are focusing on this fast-growing continent’s shoppers and workers rather than just the usual upswing in commodity prices that have driven past cycles of boom and bust.
The African Development Bank projected in its latest annual report in May that foreign investment in Africa would reach a record $80 billion this year, with a larger share of the money going to manufacturing and not just the strip-mining of resources.
“The development is real, and on the back of that, there’s a lot of commercial opportunity that’s emerging,” said Simon Freemantle, senior political economist at Standard Bank here.
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At times messy and difficult to quantify, Africa’s economies give pessimists and optimists plenty of statistical ammunition to support their narratives of the future. Growth is uneven. Inequality is rising in many corners. Millions of people still live in extreme poverty. With violence simmering in the Central African Republic, South Sudan and elsewhere, it’s easy to fall back on the old pessimistic plotline for sub-Saharan Africa.

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