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West Africa Regional Overview

Regional Overview

The Western Africa region posted the least impressive economic performance of all five regions in 2016.

The sharp drop in performance across West Africa highlights the vulnerability of average growth performance on the continent to events in a few large countries. The persistent fall in oil prices and policy uncertainties adversely affected the growth prospects of Nigeria, as well as South Africa, and significantly impacted the growth performance of the continent as a whole. Nigeria and South Africa account for the largest shares of Africa’s GDP at 29.3% and 19.1%, respectively. The recession in Nigeria resulting from a combination of oil price effects and structural issues has been made worse by policy uncertainties, in particular regarding exchange rate policies.

West Africa is expected to record improved growth performance of 3.4% in 2017, due to the expected rebound in oil prices. Production from the delta region of Nigeria is also projected to improve following the arrest of militants behind recent attacks on oil fields.

The Bank’s Ongoing Portfolio in West Africa

The Bank’s active portfolio for the region at end-2016 comprised 214 operations for UA 3.34 billion. Approvals in 2016 were UA 2,076.8 million, over three times those in 2015 (UA 686.6 million), for a mix of reasons. Approvals for private sector operations were 45 percent higher than in 2015, showing a promising sign of greater private sector activity. The ADF achieved significant results with the Northern Rural Growth Program in Ghana.

Approvals for Nigeria in 2016 amounted to UA 1,310.4 million, half of which were devoted to the financial sector and multisector (including governance-related) operations. Among other approvals were a public-sector loan of UA 436.7 million for economic governance, diversification, and competitiveness support, and a Bank loan to Babalola University of Nigeria (the Bank’s first private intervention in education). An infrastructure project to rehabilitate roads in Cross River State, completed in 2016, brought many benefits.

Several countries are developing their “blue economy,” which encompasses a wide range of activities based on the ocean (such as port development and related activities, sustainable tourism, and renewable energy), marine resources (fishing and seafood processing, aquaculture, and marine services), and other services (ocean knowledge and spatial marine planning). Such activities help diversify the economy and can generate higher value added in fishing and tourism. Countries riding this worldwide trend include Cabo Verde, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Nigeria, and Senegal.

* 1United of Account (UA) = 1.34433 US dollars as of 31 December 2016.