Sub-Saharan Africa’s regional economy is strengthening, with growth forecast to rise from 3 percent in 2018 to 3.5 percent in 2019, according to the International Monetary Fund.
“Sub-Saharan Africa, the economy continues to recover in terms of economic growth. This year we are expecting growth to accelerate to 3.5 percent from 3 percent last year. But these average, regional average numbers, mask quite a lot of difference in terms of outcomes across the region. Specifically, some 21 countries are expected to grow at 5 percent or more this year, and so, you know, per capita income increases that are markedly larger than many countries in the rest of the world. And these economies that are growing fast tend to be the more diversified economies,” said Abebe Aemro Selassie, Director of the African Department of the IMF.
Selassie also pointed to growing trade within Africa as a positive force.
“One development that we are very hopeful will facilitate growth, is increased trade integration in the region. We are very encouraged by the progress that has been made towards the African Continental Free Trade Area, once completed the trade agreement will establish a market of 1.2 billion people, with a combined GDP of $2.5 trillion. The benefits could be substantial, particularly if countries tackle the non-tariff bottlenecks to trade, including by investing in infrastructure, lowering logistical costs and improving trade facilitation,” he said at a press briefing.
Selassie pointed to headwinds, including volatile commodity prices, security concerns and weather-related shocks, including Cyclone Idai.
“As you know, Cyclone Idai has had a devastating impact in southeast Africa, leading to the significant loss of life and damage. We are doing everything we can to support the countries that have been affected. Just to give an example, we have moved very rapidly to support Mozambique through a rapid credit facility. We expect the Executive Board to consider this request as soon as next week, within a month of the hurricane hitting -- the cyclone hitting Mozambique.”