Global uncertainty slowing growth in Africa’s economies – World Bank report

By Iddi Yire, GNA

Accra, Oct. 10, GNA –
The World Bank’s 20th edition of Africa’s Pulse report has revealed that growth
in Sub-Saharan Africa remains slow through 2019, hampered by persistent
uncertainty in the global economy and the slow pace of domestic reforms.

Africa’s Pulse is a
biannual publication containing an analysis of the near-term macroeconomic
outlook for the region.

The 97-page report
was launched by in Washington DC, Dr Albert Zeufack, Chief Economist for Africa
at the World Bank, which was monitored by the Ghana News Agency through
video-conferencing in Accra.

According to the
report, overall growth in Sub-Saharan Africa is projected to rise to 2.6 per
cent in 2019 from 2.5 per cent in 2018, which is 0.2 percentage points lower
than the April forecast.

This edition of
Africa’s Pulse includes special sections on accelerating poverty reduction and
promoting women empowerment.

“Africa’s economies
are not immune to what is happening in the rest of the world and this is
reflected in the subdued growth rates across the region,” said Dr Zeufack.

“At the same time,
evidence clearly links poor governance to poor growth performance, so efficient
and transparent institutions should be on the priority list for African policy
makers and citizens.”

Dr Zeufack said in
spite of the challenges facing many Africa countries, the continent still hosts
four of the fasters growing economies in the world.

“Countries like Ethiopia,
Rwanda, Ghana and the Ivory Coast are still growing above seven per cent. These
are our growth champions in the continent, but they are also among the fastest
in the world,” he said.

Dr Hafez Ghanem,
World Bank Vice President for Africa, said: “Empowering women will help boost
growth. African policy makers face an important choice: business as usual or
deliberate steps toward a more inclusive economy.”

“After several years
of slower-than-expected growth, closing the opportunity gap for women by removing
barriers to their economic participation is the best way forward.”

The report said
global uncertainty was taking a toll on growth well beyond Africa and real
Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth was also expected to slow significantly in
other emerging and developing regions.

It said the Middle
East and North Africa, Latin America and Caribbean, and South Asia regions are
expected to see even larger downward revisions in their growth forecasts than
in Sub-Saharan Africa for 2019.

The report said
beyond Sub- Saharan Africa’s regional averages, the picture is mixed.

It said the recovery
in Nigeria, South Africa, and Angola—the region’s three largest economies—has
remained weak and was weighing on the region’s prospects.

The report said in
Nigeria, growth in the non-oil sector has been sluggish, while in Angola the
oil sector remains weak; whereas in South Africa, low investment sentiment is
weighing on economic activity.

It said excluding
Nigeria, South Africa, and Angola, growth in the rest of the subcontinent is
expected to remain robust although slower in some countries.

With regards to
accelerating poverty reduction and empowering women, the report said, four in
10 Africans, or over 416 million people, live below $1.90 per day in 2015.

It said in the absence
of significant efforts to create economic opportunities and reduce risk for
poor people, extreme poverty would become almost exclusively an African
phenomenon by 2030.

According to Africa’s
Pulse, the poverty agenda in Africa should put the poor in control, helping to
accelerate the fertility transition, leverage the food system on and off the
farm, address risk and conflict, and provide more and better public finance to
improve the lives of the most vulnerable.

It said a critical
piece would be addressing gender gaps in health, education, empowerment, and
jobs.

The report said
Sub-Saharan Africa was the only region in the world that could boast that women
were more likely to be entrepreneurs than men, and African women contribute to
a large share of agricultural labor across the continent.

This success, it
said, was stifled by large and persistent earnings gaps between men and women.

The report said women
farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa produce 33 percent less per hectare of land than
men do, and female entrepreneurs or business owners earn 34 per cent less
profits than male business owners.

It said these
earnings gaps are very costly to African people and economies.

GNA

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