Economic growth in Sub-Saharan Africa expected to rebound in 2019, World Bank says Updated for 2021

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Updated: March 5, 2021


Economic growth in Sub-Saharan Africa is expected to rebound to 2.8 percent in 2019 after it was downgraded to 2.3 percent for 2018, down from 2.5 percent in 2017, according to the April 2019 of Africa’s Pulse, the World Bank’s bi-annual analysis of the state of African economies released on Monday.

Despite the rebound, the Sub-Saharan African economy will have remained below three percent since 2015, as economic growth remained below population growth for the fourth consecutive year.

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The bright side, said Albert Zeufack, World Bank Chief Economist for Africa, is that “the digital transformation can increase growth by nearly two percentage points per year and reduce poverty by nearly one percentage point per year in sub-Saharan Africa alone”. “This is a game-changer for Africa,” Zeufack added.

The World Bank said the slower-than-expected overall growth reflects ongoing global uncertainty, but increasingly comes from domestic macroeconomic instability including poorly managed debt, inflation, and deficits; political and regulatory uncertainty; and fragility that are having visible negative impacts on some African economies. It also belies stronger performance in several smaller economies that continue to grow steadily.

In Nigeria, growth reached 1.9 percent in 2018, up from 0.8 percent in 2017, reflecting a modest pick-up in the non-oil economy. 

South Africa came out of recession in the third quarter of 2018, but growth was subdued at 0.8 percent over the year, as policy uncertainty held back investment. Angola, the region’s third largest economy, remained in recession, with growth falling sharply as oil production stayed weak.

Growth picked up in some resource-intensive-countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo and Niger, as stronger mining production and commodity prices boosted activity alongside a rebound in agricultural production and public investment in infrastructure.

In others, like Liberia and Zambia, growth was subdued, as high inflation and elevated debt levels continued to weigh on investor sentiment. In the Central African Economic and Monetary Community, a fragile recovery continued as reform efforts to reduce fiscal and external imbalances slowed in some countries. Non-resource-intensive economies such as Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, and several in the West African Economic and Monetary Union, including Benin and Côte d’Ivoire recorded solid economic growth in 2018.

Africa’s Pulse also found that fragility in a handful of countries is costing sub-Saharan Africa over half a percentage point of growth per year. This adds up to 2.6 percentage points over 5 years.

“The drivers of fragility have evolved over time, and so too must the solutions,” saidCesar Calderon, Lead Economist and Lead author of the report. “Countries have a real opportunity to move from fragility to opportunity by cooperating across borders to tackle instability, violence, and climate change.”

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Simon Ateba
Simon Ateba
Simon Ateba covers the White House, the U.S. government, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other financial and international institutions for Today News Africa in Washington D.C. Simon can be reached on simonateba@todaynewsafrica.com

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