Smaller countries outpace giants such as Nigeria and South Africa but progress on regional integration and industrialisation is lacking
Economic conditions in Africa this year might best be symbolised by the new railway boom, over a century after the failure of a colonial plan for a route between Cairo and Cape Town. Today's routes are less ambitious. Instead of colonial expansion, they are a belated attempt at integrating the continent's 54 national economies and fostering intra-continental trade.
The railways are usually built by Chinese engineering firms, whose costings and financing deals undercut all rivals for now. Yet China's economic slowdown and diminished appetite for African commodities is held up as a leading cause of lacklustre growth across Africa over the past two years.
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