Africa / Middle East
This region covers a quarter of the earth’s land area and is home to 19% of the world’s population. The largest country in the region is Algeria and the most populous country is Nigeria. This entire region is the most politically unstable in the world – with huge disparities in wealth distribution, abject poverty in many areas, major cultural and religious divides and mineral wealth (mainly copper, bauxite, gold and oil) making it a focus for huge economic rivalries and terrorist movements. These problems are compounded by widespread corruption in political life.
Africa is largely made up of developing countries and has the lowest average age for any region of the world – at 19.7 years compared to a global average age of 30.4 years. The Middle East (which sometimes also includes Egypt) is part of the Asian Continent and principally an arid region bounded on the north by the Caucasus mountains and Black Sea and to the south by the Red Sea and Persian Gulf. It contains the strategically important Suez Canal that allows a high volume of trade between Europe and the rest of Asia.
The legal systems owe a great deal to both the region’s colonial past and, in the middle East, to Islamic Sharia law. In most Arab states Sharia law relates largely to family status and personal conduct but in states such as Iran it pervades the entire legal system. In Africa the legal systems range from the Anglo-Dutch framework in South Africa to Xeer law based on median through “elders” used in the horn of Africa. An important aspect of employment in this region is the rising emphasis on retaining a certain proportion of available jobs for country nationals. For instance, in Angola companies with 5 or more workers must have 70% of jobs reserved for Angolan nationals.
Another important issue in the region is tax. Tax revenues average account for around 30% of GDP around the World, but in SubSahara Africa they only account for around 20% of GDP. This is partly due to a large informal economy in many countries, but also to a reluctance of those in higher earnings brackets to fund adequate public services and a welfare system.