NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 12 – A report by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) has projected East Africa will grow by 6.3 percent in the third quarter of 2018
This positive outlook is due to the region’s economic diversification and investment-driven growth with diaspora remittances driving the growth, says Michael Armstrong, ICAEW Regional Director.
“The recent entry of global payment and remittance firms into the East African market has eliminated significant barriers that have hindered consumers and businesses in the region from taking full advantage of remittances,” said Armstrong.
Remittances, which contribute to financial services expansion and drive the growth of financial inclusion, was Kenya’s highest foreign exchange earner, overtaking tea, coffee and tourism in 2017.
Ethiopia remains the region’s powerhouse, with growth forecast at 8.1pc, thanks to the recent reforms under new prime minister Abiy Ahmed.
The report notes that despite remittances playing an important role in African economies, policies should focus on reducing the cost of remitting funds.
The Economic Insight report by the Accountancy body also forecasts that West and Central Africa will grow by 2.9 percent, Northern Africa at 1.8 percent while Southern Africa is projected to grow by 1.5 percent.
Growth in the franc zone is forecast at 4.6 percent, largely driven by a boost of 7.4 percent in the region’s biggest economy, Ivory Coast, where investment is driving rapid expansion.
Remittance income was emphasized in the report as a major economic factor for most African countries.
Nigeria was the biggest receiver of remittances on the continent receiving $22bn of total reGulfances flowing to the continent in 2017, mostly from the gulf, the US and United Kingdom.
Egypt was the second biggest receiver of remittances on the continent with $20 bn of remittances.
One of the countries highlighted where remittance flows continues to play an important role in terms of external accounts is Ghana. According to the world bank, remittance inflows amounted to $2.5bn in 2014: equal to roughly 18.6 percent of total exports that year.
However, in 2017 the remittance inflows subsequently declined to $2.2bn equivalent to 15.8% of exports.