Africa: World Bank Revises 2019 Growth to 2.6%

The World Bank has revised overall growth projections for Sub-Saharan Africa to 2.6 percent in 2019 about 0.2 percent lower than the April forecast.

In the 20th edition of Africa’s pulse released on Wednesday this week, the World Bank noted that growth would be hampered by persistent global economic uncertainty.

“Global uncertainty is taking a toll on growth well beyond Africa, and real GDP growth is also expected to slow significantly in other emerging and developing regions. 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 read in part.

The recovery in Nigeria, South Africa, and Angola, the region’s three largest economies, has remained weak and is weighing on growth prospects. In Nigeria, growth in the non-oil sector has been sluggish, while in Angola the oil sector remained weak. In South Africa, low investment sentiment is weighing on economic activity.

“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. At the same time, the evidence clearly links poor governance to poor growth performance, so efficient and transparent institutions should be on the priority list for African policymakers and citizens,” said Albert Zeufack, Chief Economist for Africa at the World Bank.

The report listed Rwanda as one of the non-resource intensive countries on the continent which has enjoyed growth accelerated by strong construction activities alongside Côte d’Ivoire and Ethiopia.

“The top tercile of growth performers in the region, which includes the improved and established countries, comprises 10 countries; Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania, and Uganda,” the report read in part.

The report also highlighted the importance of women empowerment to boost the economic growth of African countries.

“Empowering women will help boost growth. African policymakers 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,” said Hafez Ghanem, World Bank Vice President for Africa.

Sub-Saharan Africa is the only region in the world that can boast that women are more likely to be entrepreneurs than men, and African women contribute to a large share of agricultural labor across the continent.

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The report found that success is however stifled by large and persistent earnings gaps between men and women.

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 percent fewer profits than male business owners.

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.

Four in ten Africans, or over 416 million people, lived below $1.90 per day in 2015, the report noted.

Absent significant efforts to create economic opportunities and reduce the risk for poor people, extreme poverty could worsen further if not addressed. A critical piece will be addressing gender gaps in health, education, empowerment, and jobs.

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