Fuelled by China's seemingly infinite thirst for resources, Africa's economy grew at a robust pace last decade. With China slowing down, Africa needs a new partner. Will the Commonwealth fill that gap When 19th century American explorer and journalist Henry Morton first used the term dark continent for Africa, he perhaps never thought it would stick with the continent perennially like a shadow. Used initially by European historians, economists, explorers and sociologists alike for their sheer lack of knowledge of the huge land mass, it has become symbolic of the inherent backwardness of the region. Beset with under-development, poverty, stagnation and corruption, Africa is by some distance the poorest continent on the planet - 21 of the poorest 25 countries in the world belong to the continent. Just one statistic gives an idea where Africa stands globally. Its entire gross domestic product (GDP), an aggregation of 54 countries, at $3.3 trillion is less than a sixth of the US economy. These numbers paint a sordid picture but endowed with rich mineral resources, Africa ought to be in fact one of the richest regions of the world. As the second-largest continent in terms of size, Africa accounts for 60 per cent of world's cobalt production, 38 per cent of manganese, 69.4 per cent of platinum, 56 per cent of natural diamond and even 47 per cent of mineral fuels including coal and petroleum.