East Africa records best economic performance in the continent, AfDB outlook
The African Development Bank has expanded its flagship publication, the African Economic Outlook, with five regional reports.
East Africa, with thirteen countries, recorded the continent’s best economic performance with a GDP growth rate of 5.9% in 2017 −a rate much higher than the growth recorded by the other regions of the continent, and above the continental average of 3.6%.
The good performance of the East African sub region is stimulated by six countries: Ethiopia, Tanzania, Djibouti, Rwanda, Seychelles and Kenya. The outlook remains positive for 2018 and 2019, with growth expected to continue, reaching 5.9% in 2018 and 6.2% in 2019.
North Africa ended 2017 with growth of 4.9% of real GDP, up from 3.3% recorded in 2016. The region’s economic performance is above a 3.6% average for the continent, thanks to higher than expected oil production in Libya and the performance of Morocco, which saw growth rise from 1.2% in 2016 to 4.1% in 2017, on account of increased agricultural productivity.
Overall, growth in the North Africa region was fueled by new high value-added sectors such as electronics and mechanics, as well as private and public consumption. The region’s outlook remains positive for 2018 and 2019, on account of structural reforms. Growth in North Africa is expected to reach 5% and 4.6% respectively in 2018 and 2019.
Estimated at 1.6% on average in 2017, real GDP growth in Southern Africa is expected to improve to 2% in 2018 and 2.4% in 2019.
However, economic forecasts remain cautious, especially given the very different growth patterns of the region’s economies. The economic “locomotive” of the region, South Africa, shows signs of slow growth, and possibly declining growth, while low-income countries and the economies in transition, such as Madagascar and Mozambique, recorded more important growth.
After several good years, economic growth in West Africa stagnated at 0.5% in 2016. The decline in the price of raw materials and the unimpressive performance of Nigeria, which alone accounts for about 70% of the sub region’s GDP, were some of the key factors identified as responsible for stagnation.
Economic growth in West Africa rebounded to 2.5% in 2017 and is projected to rise to 3.8% in 2018 and 3.9% in 2019. Household consumption and the relative price recovery of certain materials are expected to contribute to this performance.
The Central African region recorded 0.9% real GDP in 2017, the lowest growth rate of the continent, although it represents a relative improvement over growth of 0.1% in 2016.
This sub regional performance masks many disparities between countries: relatively good growth for Cameroon and the Central African Republic, and very low growth for Equatorial Guinea and Congo.
The economic difficulties in Central Africa are largely due to lower raw material prices, which some countries in the region are heavily dependent on, as well as recurring security threats in others.
The outlook for 2018 and 2019 is more encouraging, fueled by rising world prices for raw materials and domestic demand. According to the Bank’s projections, real GDP growth in Central Africa is expected to reach 2.4 percent in 2018 and 3 percent in the following year.
Other enabling factors include sound macroeconomic management and a more favorable institutional environment.