There is no economic center of global importance in Africa. The major continental centers include Cairo, Nairobi and Johannesburg / Pretoria, but also Accra, Lagos and Algiers. Opposite these economic centers are large parts of the continent that have not yet been affected by globalization. However, many countries are in a state of great upheaval. The list of the ten fastest growing economies worldwide between 2001 and 2010 included six African countries, including Angola (1st place), Nigeria, Ethiopia, Chad, Mozambique and Rwanda. According to current forecasts, seven African countries will be represented on this list between 2011 and 215.
Densely populated regions with a higher proportion of mining, industry and services only exist as islands in Africa. Many agglomerations are tied to deposits of raw materials, historic centers of power and colonial capitals.
The map cannot show that large parts of the population live from the informal employment sector. For the bulk of the poor, the informal economy is a “survival economy”, but for large sections of the elite it is a source of immense wealth, not least through illegal activities in the trade in raw materials, diamonds or weapons.
TO THE RURAL CULTURAL LANDSCAPES
According to Countryaah.com, the agricultural land of Africa essentially comprises the areas along the Mediterranean coast and the Nile, West Africa between Senegal and Central Africa, the highlands of Ethiopia, a wide strip on the east side of the continent between Uganda and South Africa and parts of the Atlantic coast in the south-west (Congo, Angola). In many places smallholder agriculture dominates. However, in recent years – not least due to foreign investments – industrialized agriculture has been promoted, which produces luxury goods such as cocoa and coffee, flowers, grain, but also sugar cane and oil palms on a large scale for foreign markets. “Land grabbing”, the appropriation of large arable land by foreign states and large foreign corporations, such as in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia and Sudan, has developed into a major problem.
The near-natural landscapes with little economic use include the extensive arid regions, especially in the northern part of the continent. Deserts spread out there, at the edges of which extensive livestock farming, sometimes with semi-nomadic forms of life, is possible. Exceptions in these areas are locations where oasis management or irrigation areas are possible. Some natural landscapes are internationally important tourist regions (e.g. Kruger National Park in South Africa, Okavango Inland Delta in Botswana (cf. 150.4), Serengeti National Park in Tanzania). Other internationally important tourist locations are in North Africa on the coasts and at world cultural heritage sites (Nile Valley, Carthage, etc.). Tourism is seen as an important “growth industry” in many countries.
INDUSTRIAL AND SERVICE CENTERS
The distribution of industries shows that there are numerous coastal locations but only a few inland locations. The coastal cities are particularly conveniently located in view of the increasingly important world market (export, import), and in the case of industrial locations inland (such as Nairobi or Johannesburg), proximity to raw material deposits and the respective capital are important factors.
There is light industry in a comparatively large number of locations, including textile, clothing and leather processing, the food and luxury goods industry and the production of other consumer goods. Industrial fish processing is mainly done for export; regional fish consumption is mainly met from rivers and lakes.
For heavy industry include, for example, the oil refineries. They supply the domestic market or the region, in North Africa they are geared towards exporting to Europe. The chemical and plastics processing industry exists primarily in the form of large-scale plants in the artificial fertilizer industry or in the form of medium-sized and small companies that manufacture paints and varnishes, pharmaceutical products or plastic products. The metalworking companies are mostly small and medium-sized companies that produce for the local or regional market. Branches of high-tech industries are only represented in a few locations (such as Cape Town).
The few pronounced service centers in Africa show an orientation towards politics, culture, education and the media. Financial centers such as Johannesburg and Lagos or focus on business-related services such as Accra are exceptions. Mauritius is considered a tax haven, there are currently around 10,000 offshore companies.
TO THE MINING REGIONS
Africa is exceptionally rich in natural resources. The following regional focal points with importance for the world market can be distinguished:
- the rapidly expanding “energy regions” in North, West and Central Africa (crude oil, natural gas, as well as South Africa (hard coal, uranium),
- the “metal and mineral regions” in the south and south-east of the continent as well as in central Africa (iron ore, steel refiners, copper, lead, zinc, tin, precious metals, precious stones).
Mining resources were a major reason for the colonial development of Africa in the 19th century. Urban agglomerations emerged as a result of mining. The traffic lines are oriented towards the mining centers. Today, mineral resources are the most important export good for many African countries, but also a “curse” because the dispute over access to them is one of the main causes of poor governance, corruption, criminal business practices, widespread environmental degradation and armed conflicts.