Factum Perspective: The Rise of Emerging African Powers

September 18, 2023 at 10:15 AM

By Britney Martil

A New Economic Paradigm: African Powers on the Rise

The emergence of new economic powerhouses within Africa has been a defining phenomenon of recent times. These emerging African powers are playing an increasingly pivotal role in shaping the continent’s economic landscape, challenging established norms, and spearheading transformative development. Emerging powers like Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya, and Ethiopia are driving this change in Africa’s trajectory, along with other major players like Egypt. These nations are not only embracing their roles as regional leaders but are also extending their influence on the global stage. This paradigm shift calls into question prevailing narratives, which have traditionally positioned Western powers at the forefront of development efforts.

A key hallmark of Africa’s emerging powers is their proactive engagement in trade and economic partnerships. These countries are lessening their historical reliance on Western markets by broadening their trade partnerships. This has created new opportunities for economic development, enabling African nations to investigate collaborations with other developing nations in Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East. For decades, many African economies were heavily reliant on a limited number of Western markets for their exports. This dependence on a few trading partners not only left these nations vulnerable to shifts in global demand and economic fluctuations but also hindered their capacity to negotiate favorable trade terms. But the emergence of African emerging nations has signaled a change from the established quo. African countries are now actively expanding their economic engages in an effort to increase the breadth of their export markets beyond the established Western markets. By doing so, they are not only minimizing their susceptibility to economic shocks from any single market but also unlocking the potential for new economic opportunities. This strategic diversification is a response to the realization that a balanced trade portfolio is a safeguard against external vulnerabilities.

The expenditures made in infrastructure are not limited to isolated initiatives; rather, they are a component of overall plans aimed at connecting different parts of these countries and promoting greater integration. Emerging African nations are bridging the urban-rural divide and unlocking the economic potential of previously underdeveloped regions through improving internal connections. This fair allocation of infrastructure eliminates inequities while also utilizing the nation’s pooled human capital. These infrastructure initiatives also aim to promote regional connectivity and collaboration. For instance, improved road and rail networks make it easier to transport commodities across borders, encouraging cooperation and trade among continents. Economic corridors that link several nations are emerging, boosting trade and fostering a feeling of common destiny among states while utilizing the distinctive assets and advantages of each.

To advance past conventional developmental stages, emergent African powers are embracing technological innovation. With the help of developments in information technology as well as in telecommunications, these countries are adopting digitalization to simplify governance, offer necessary services, and foster entrepreneurship. This approach not only enhances efficiency and effectiveness but also propels Africa onto the global stage as a serious contender in the digital economy. Traditional approaches to development often involve adopting a linear path that takes into account different stages of industrialization and economic expansion. African emerging nations are, however, upending this paradigm by pursuing a leapfrogging approach. Leapfrogging is the practice of some nations adopting the most recent technologies without first passing through certain developmental stages. They may be able to accelerate development and get around obstacles that more developed economies encounter by doing this. African nations are harnessing this strategic imperative by leveraging their latecomer advantage. Rather than being burdened by outdated infrastructure, they can embrace cutting-edge technologies, positioning themselves at the forefront of innovation and development.

The Impact of Emerging African Powers on Asian Regions: A New Paradigm of Cooperation

The emergence of African powers as influential players on the global stage is not only transforming their continent but also sending ripples of impact across Asian regions. A new era of collaboration, creativity, and economic prosperity is being ushered in by this recently discovered synergy between Africa and Asia. As African emerging powers forge strategic partnerships with Asian countries, the dynamics of trade, investment, and development are being redefined, creating a mutually beneficial landscape that holds advantageous promise for both regions.

African developing powers have focused their attention on the vibrant economies of Asia as they seek diverse economic engagements. This outreach is igniting a novel paradigm of collaboration that transcends conventional barriers. African countries are attempting to take advantage of Asia’s technological strength, market access, and investment possibilities, from China and India to Turkey and Indonesia. The end result is a complex web of intercontinental partnerships that take advantage of the benefits of each region.

  • Trade and Investment Dynamics

The environment for trade and investment is being redefined by the growing economic links between Asian regions and emerging African nations. African economies find receptive clients for their commodities and value-added products as they broaden their exports and link into Asia’s thriving marketplaces. As African economies diversify their export markets, countries like Nigeria are establishing trade links with Asian giants like China and India. In return, Asian nations recognize Africa’s vast natural resources and are investing in sectors such as renewable energy and infrastructure development. An illustrative example is Kenya’s collaboration with Japan in developing geothermal energy projects, leading to sustainable energy solutions and mutual economic gains.

  • Reciprocal Learning and Progress

A mutual exchange of expertise and development plans characterizes the relationship between developing African powers and Asian countries. For instance, Rwanda and Singapore’s cooperation in urban planning and governance has aided in the development of sustainable and effective cities. A mutual exchange of expertise and development plans characterizes the relationship between developing African powers and Asian countries. For instance, Rwanda and Singapore’s cooperation in urban planning and governance has aided in the development of sustainable and effective cities. 

  • Technological Leapfrogging and Innovation Exchange

Asian technology advances are being used by growing African nations to further their own progress. Asian countries’ proficiency in sectors like fintech and e-commerce is aiding African nations in bypassing conventional stages of growth.  Utilizing mobile banking and digital payment systems, Nigeria’s relationship with India’s IT industry has boosted the latter’s digital economy and enabled financial inclusion and economic development.


The ascent of Africa’s developing powers has sparked a dramatic transformation on the continent and in Asia, ushering in a period filled with vigorous cooperation and reciprocal development. The outreach of African nations towards Asian economies has resulted in a paradigm shift that encompasses trade, investment, technology, and development strategies. The widening horizons of African powers’ interaction with Asia signify a break from traditional alliances, where a variety of countries, including Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Rwanda, cooperate with Asian superpowers like South Korea, China, India, and Japan. Beyond trade statistics, these partnerships generate a deeper comprehension of shared developmental issues and objectives.

The emergence of Africa’s influential players has given rise to a transformative era of cooperation, sparking cross-continental collaborations that redefine economic, technological, and developmental landscapes. The symbiotic link between Africa and Asia has the ability to produce a future of reciprocal advancement and global relevance as these dynamics continue to change.

Britney Martil is a law student at the Kotelawala Defence University. With a passion for justice and equality, she is determined and dedicated to fighting against all forms of injustice.

Factum is an Asia Pacific-focused think tank on International Relations, Tech Cooperation, and Strategic Communications accessible via www.factum.lk.

The views expressed here are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the organization’s.