Economic growth picks up in sub-Saharan Africa: World Bank

Abidjan (AFP) –


Economic growth is set to pick up to 3.1 percent in sub-Saharan Africa in 2018, following a number of disappointing years, the World Bank wrote in a report published on Wednesday.

Growth is then expected to accelerate further to 3.6 percent in 2019 and 2020, the bank wrote in its regular half-yearly report, "Africa's Pulse".

The drop in prices of raw materials from 2014, on which many African economies depend, has weighed on economic activity in those countries for some years.

In 2016, growth on the African continent stood at a meagre 1.5 percent, but accelerated to 2.6 percent in 2017.

"Growth has rebounded in Sub-Saharan Africa, but not fast enough," the World Bank's chief economist for Africa, Albert Zeufack, said.

With demographic growth in sub-Saharan Africa standing at 2.7 percent, economic growth is just enough to push up revenue per capita, Zeufack told a news conference.

However, "growth is insufficient to eradicate poverty in the near horizon," he added.

Within the vast region of sub-Saharan Africa, a number of countries enjoyed dynamic growth, namely the Ivory Coast and Senegal in the west, Rwanda, Ethiopia and Tanzania in the east.

All of these notched up growth rates of more than six percent as they bore the fruit from moves to diversify their economies and boosted infrastructure investment, the World Bank said.

By contrast, central African economies stagnated as they were overly dependent on raw materials.

"It is important that these countries boost their resilience by making diversification strategies an absolute priority," said the World Bank's main economist, Punam Chuhan-Pole.

But the bank expressed concern about the sharp increase in public debt in some of the countries.

"A number of countries have doubled their debt in five years and 18 African countries are now exposed to a high risk of overdebtedness, compared with eight in 2013," Zeufack warned.