Seven Scenarios for the Future of Africa 2030

Africas future is uncertain. On one hand it is a continent of great opportunities. No other georegion generated higher growth rates during the last decade. Africa shows – without any doubt – many examples for transformation: South Africa is on the way towards a global economic player with 50% of its exports coming from manufacturing; the mobile phone has evolved from a communications tool to a device, on which much of Africa’s economic aspirations rest – and the first Sub-Saharan metro has been put into operation in Ethiopia (build by the China Railway Group). On the other hand, Africa‘s aggregate growth will fall below 5% for the first time in 15 years; the majority of Africans believes that corruption is getting worse; 17 out of 28 failed states are in Africa and migration still undermines the positive development of many states.

But does this »Black-and-White-Thinking« (apart from the inappropriate wording) really help? In our view, substantiated by our analysis, there are too many different drivers for just two Best- and Worst-case-pictures. Within our Scenario-Management-process, we worked with 24 key factors for which at least four alternative developments have been taken into account. This led to a very diverse view on the future of the continent – and it made it hard for us to reduce this complex system to seven consistent and different future scenarios.

The seven scenarios cover many different aspects of the discussion about Africas future: Will the economic boom continue and consolidate, or will the negative indicators prevail? And will the African economies migrate from grey to global ones? Will the level of social, ethnical, religious or military conflicts grow or decline? And will Africa search for and find its own way, or will it primarily follow Western or Eastern models? These and many more questions are covered in our "map of the future".



This "map of the future" is created by an economic and a socio-political axis. Economically the scenarios differ by the growth rates and the global competitiveness of Africa. From the societal point of view, urbanisation and individualisation are an important difference - as well as participation and openness of societies. In the orange area of the map, the scenarios are characterized by a higher rule of law, significant foreign direct investments and a strong industrialization. The seven scenarios could be described in the following ways:

African perspectives (Scenario 1)
Conservation of ethnic identities and muddling through in an organized chaos. Africa’s nation states confidently go their own ways and refuse to follow Western or Asian role models. Economic development remains informal and focusses on meeting national or regional needs. African societies are determined by ethnic identities and traditional structures. People defend and develop further the »African way« – and accept their authorities despite the lack of a political long-term strategy.
Sell-out (Scenario 2)
Absorption of raw-materials tightens split of societies. Ruling powers govern efficiently with the aim to milk African soil. Resource industries including land for agricultural usage are very attractive also for foreign investments. This economic focusing leads to social split which is softened by traditional family structures. Rigid value systems and strong national identities support social cohesion. Globally, Africa’s role is the raw material supplier, which leads to environmental and economic problems in the future.
New workbench (Scenario 3)
Economic success following the Far-East-models. African nation states are dominated by ruling powers which see the Far East Model as savior. The consequence is a structural change towards industrial mass production. The often authoritarian systems are powerful enough to enforce their politics, and they govern efficiently and ensure stable nation states. As people have economic perspectives and live in legal certainty, they accept the system and follow their leaders into the concept of Africa as the new extended global workbench.
In western footsteps (Scenario 4)
Triad of democratic systems, prosperity and active civil societies. Democratic systems are successfully implemented and supported by the majority of Africans within active civil societies. Value systems of the new middle class have strongly moved from traditional towards global identities. Dynamic economies emancipate from the addiction to traditional grey markets and support modernization and structural change. Due to its growing success on the export markets, Africa has found its place within the global arena – economically and politically.
Economic colonialism (Scenario 5)
Temptation and Resistance against economization and westernization. Implemented democratic systems are seen as puppets operated by the West within African citizens. They do not accept ruling powers as they dislike the political direction of westernization and economization – and strong foreign investments increase economic dependency. Civil societies more and more split up as traditional values lose relevance, but western value systems are also widely rejected. African societies strive for emancipation but are closely integrated into economic mechanisms.
Think West! Go West? (Scenario 6)
Totalitarian systems under pressure. Western oriented societies are governed by obviously overstrained potentates whose politics widely failed. To protect struggling national economies, political authorities support the primary sector and build isolated trading areas. This intervention just intensifies the economic problems. People are widely disenchanted and try to leave their split societies behind. They strive for prosperity and western lifestyle, and as development assistance has no significant effect, many people try to migrate to western states.
End of existing order (Scenario 7)
Anarchy and collapse of nation states. African potentates tumble and fall – and bring down the existing order. The political chaos and economic failure lead to existential difficulties for African societies. People have to migrate to survive, but as ethnic identities and traditional structures are central pillars of moral concepts, they prefer countries with familiar value systems. The collapse of nation states result in chaotic circumstances, and a new and stable political order is more than overdue.

Even these scenarios are not universal. Different perspectives are possible: The scenarios could be seen as general development tendencies for the whole continent. This view stimulates a geopolitical discussion and allows us a detachment from current, specific and personal experiences. But in reality the whole continent will not move simultaneously into one or another direction. Countries will follow different development paths. To add this second perspective, we used a regional specific scenario-assessment. Based on indicators for all 24 key factors, we identified the nearness of each scenario to the current situation of the single nation states. This is a new kind of scenario-analysis, so that we are looking forward to your feedback – content- as well as methodology-wise.