Three economies drag Africa growth to 3pc in 2017 – AfDB

October 17, 2017
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Steady Domestic demand and public investments in infrastructure has helped sustain growth in many countries, but the productivity of those investments is important for sustainable growth and must remain an area of policy focus.

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 16 – The Africa Development Bank has revised its 2017 Africa Growth projections downwards to 3 percent compared to 3.4 percent projected in May 2017.

In a new report, the bank expects Africa to grow by 3.7 percent in 2018.

AFDB Acting Director, Macroeconomics Policy, Forecasting and Research Abebe Shimeles says the changes in previous forecasts have followed the release of new data by some key countries – Nigeria, Algeria, and Egypt– which account for some 50  percent of the continent’s GDP and which revised their 2017 and 2018 forecasts downwards.

Steady Domestic demand and public investments in infrastructure has helped sustain growth in many countries, Shimeles says, adding that beyond the accumulation of physical capital, the productivity of those investments is important for sustainable growth and must remain an area of policy focus.

“Fiscal and current account deficits are expected to narrow due to strong export performance and higher government revenues but African governments must resist the temptation to catch-up on the spending that was suspended in the last two years as this will exuberate deficits,” he added.

He says that East Africa remains the fastest growing region, from 5.1 percent in 2016 to 5.4 percent and 5.8percent average GDP growth in 2017 and 2018 respectively.

Growth in the Eastern Africa region is mainly driven by strong domestic demand and high public infrastructure spending.

North Africa recorded the second highest growth rate of 3.1 percent in 2016 buoyed by the recovery in Egypt, with output growth of 4.3 percent and Algeria at 3.3 percent.

“The northern region is expected to grow by 3.1 percent and 3.6 percent in 2017 and 2018 respectively, with expected pick up of growth in Morocco of 4.5 percent in 2017 and 3.9  percent in 2018,”  the report states.

The Bank warns, however, that continued political uncertainties and reduced oil production in Libya continue to drag growth in the North Africa region

Libya is projected to stay in the negative growth territory in 2017 and 2018 with a growth of – 4.9 percent and – 3.9 percent respectively.

Growth in Southern Africa remained tepid at 0.9 percent in 2016, down from 1.6% in 2015.

Projected improvements in the performance of South Africa from 0.3 percent in 2016 to 1.2 percent and 1.3 percent in 2017 and 2018 is expected to boost the Southern Africa regional growth to 2.0 percent to 2.3  percent in 2017 and 2018 respectively attributed to increased mining output following a moderate rise in commodity prices.

In West Africa, the economic recession in Nigeria completely offset the strong gains made in Sierra Leone, Togo, Cote d’Ivoire and Senegal, the latter two being the region’s fastest growing economies. Nigeria accounts for 72.4 percent of the region’s overall GDP but contracted by -1.5 percent in 2016 against an average expansion of 6 percent for the other four economies, which collectively account for about 10 percent of regional GDP.

West Africa is expected to record improvements in growth to 2.5 percent and 4 percent in 2017 and 2018 respectively mainly attributed to improvements in oil production in Nigeria and rising global commodity prices.

Central Africa, on the other hand, was mainly slowed down by poor performance in Equatorial Guinea and Chad which contracted by -7.3 percent and -6.4 percent, respectively followed by Republic of Congo which shrunk by  -2.4 percent.

The Central Africa Republic is expected to record improvements in growth in 2017 and 2018 of 1.6 percent and 3.1 percent in the two respective years, the report says.

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