West Africa to become Africa’s fastest growing region

Aug 01, 2013 12:00 AM

The African Development Bank (AfDB) says West Africa will be the fastest-growing region in Africa between 2013 and 2014, with 6.7 per cent and 7.4 per cent economic growth rate.

AfDB Lead Research Economist John Anyanwu made this known at the launch of the Africa Economic Outlook by the bank in Abuja.

He said: “West Africa is expected to continue its rapid growth with rates of 6.7 per cent in 2013 and 7.4 per cent in 2014, thereby becoming the fastest-growing region of the continent in the period under review.

“Growth in the region is not only driven by oil and mineral sectors but also by agriculture and services and on the demand side often by consumption and investment.’’

Commenting on the continent, he said that in 2012, growth performance varied widely, adding that oil-exporting countries achieved significantly higher Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth than oil importers.

This, he said, was mainly because of the rebound of oil production in Libya, noting that better growth performance of oil exporters would likely continue in 2013 and 2014.

Anyanwu said that Nigeria’s average growth was expected to continue growing by between 6.7 per cent and 7.3 per cent in 2013 and 2014 respectively, while that of Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire would likely exceed eight per cent and nine per cent respectively during the period under review.

He noted that “in most countries of the region, growth is expected to pick up during the period under review, exceeding five per cent. “But in a few countries such as Benin, Cape Verde and Guinea-Bissau, growth will remain more subdued.“

Due to the resumption of oil production and exports, Libya’s GDP bounced back by 96 per cent in 2012, boosting growth in North Africa to 9.5 per cent, after the region’s GDP had stagnated in 2011.
“Given the political uncertainties and difficult international economic conditions in Egypt, growth is expected to remain subdued at two per cent and accelerate to 3.5 per cent, thus remaining below pre-revolution levels,’’ he said.

The research economist added that the Tunisian economy would be expected to continue growing at 3.5 per cent in 2013 and witness higher growth of 4.5 per cent on 2014, while Morocco and Mauritania would achieve solid growth at average rate of six per cent in the year under review.

In Algeria, growth was expected to accelerate from 2.5 per cent in 2012 to above three per cent in 2013 and to four per cent in 2014, he said.
In East Africa, he noted, most countries such as Rwanda, Tanzania, Ethiopia and Uganda, were on a solid growth path of between five per cent and seven per cent during the projection period.

According to him, growth in Kenya, with no major post-election turmoil, is expected to amount to 4.5 per cent in 2013 and to accelerate to above five per cent in 2014.
He said the Sudanese economy was affected by the secession of South Sudan but would witness moderate growth and some acceleration in 2014.

In Central Africa, Anyanwu said, the GDP would likely grow by 5.7 per cent in 2013 and 5.4 per cent in 2014 with above average growth in Chad and in DRC.

“In Chad, oil production and agriculture are the main drivers of growth. In DRC, mining, agriculture and construction are boosting growth. But sustainable growth also requires further progress in political stability and the security problem in the eastern part of the country has significantly affected economic activity in that region.’’

On Southern Africa, he said: “The GDP is expected to grow by around four per cent in 2013 and to accelerate to 4.6 per cent in 2014, while Angola, Mozambique, Zambia and Botswana growth will remain buoyant.

“In 2012, economic growth in South Africa was adversely affected by heavy strikes in the mining sector and the recession in the euro area."

With improved global demand and supportive macro-economic policies, a gradual recovery is expected for 2013 and 2014.

“Malawi is expected to emerge from its 2012 economic crisis and return to solid growth.’’

He added that Zimbabwe would continue to record positive growth rates of above 5 per cent, noting that Swaziland’s economic growth would continue to be the lowest in the region and in Africa as a whole.
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