African Business

Slow progress on transformation puts Africa’s development gains at risk


After two decades of repeated economic shocks and uneven growth, Africa’s overall economic transformation has slowed, according to the recently released African Transformation Index 2023 (ATI), published by the African Center for Economic Transformation (ACET). Many African economies have become less diversified and less competitive globally since 2000—making them more vulnerable to future shocks, more likely to struggle with debt, and less likely to achieve crucial transformation milestones in support of sustainable development.

While some African countries have seen progress since 2000, many are lagging, which has impacted their ability to recover from major global shocks like COVID-19 and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The ATI offers pathways for countries to take action to keep the transformation agenda on track and build up their economic resilience, including lessons from strong performers like Morocco, Tunisia, and Rwanda, which are among the countries that made the biggest improvements.

“Most African countries are not transforming nearly as quickly as they need to, and the ATI offers data and analysis that help explain why,” said Dr. K.Y. Amoako, Founder and President of the African Center for Economic Transformation (ACET). “This is not just a numbers exercise; investing in transformation can improve African lives and livelihoods and create a path to long-term economic success for our continent.”

Despite the challenges, the index also reveals some encouraging trends. Human well-being, which includes higher wages, more income equality, and better opportunities for women in the workplace, has improved notably in most African countries this century. While this progress is laudable, it is important for countries to strive for long-term growth that benefits everyone, and to support the most vulnerable who are often the hardest hit by climate and economic shocks.

The 2023 ATI update broadens the scope of the index to cover 30 African countries, representing 86.5 percent of Africa’s total GDP. It tracks successes and setbacks at the country level over two decades, from 2000 to 2020, along several key dimensions of economic transformation in Africa which ACET refers to as Growth with DEPTH: diversification, export competitiveness, productivity, technology, and human well-being. It is an essential tool that can help African leaders learn from the past to craft better policies for the future.

A full report detailing the ATI findings, including the most and least transformed African countries, is available to read or download at

In addition to the report, the accompanying ATI website offers journalists, citizens, policymakers, and academics the opportunity to explore African countries’ economic transformation progress through interactive online dashboards and full data downloads.

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