The new report Comparing the Real Size of African Economies: Highlights of the Main Findings of the 2011 Round of the International Comparison Program in Africa is based on the price survey data and national accounts collected from 50 of the African Development Bank’s regional member countries (RMCs). The International Comparison Program (ICP) is a global statistical initiative established in 1970 to produce internationally comparable price and expenditure data as well as purchasing power parity (PPP) estimates to facilitate cross-country comparisons of price levels, Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and related economic aggregates in real terms and free of price and exchange rate distortions. The genesis of the ICP was an early recognition that measures of economic aggregates based on exchange rates do not reflect real differences in price levels between countries, and are thus patently unsuitable for policy decisions which in principle relate to volumes free of price distortions. By establishing purchasing power equivalence, where one unit of currency purchases the same quantity of goods and services in all countries, PPP data allow cross-country comparisons of economic aggregates and structures on the basis of volumes, free of price and exchange rate distortions.
The program is globally managed by the World Bank and implemented by regions, namely, Africa, Asia and Pacific Islands, South America, the Community of Independent States (CIS) and Russia, Western Asia and Europe. The regional programs are managed by various institutions and lead countries. The European Economic Union Statistics Office (Eurostat) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) manage the comparison for their member countries. In South America, the work is managed by the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (UN-ECLAC); in Asia, by the Asian Development Bank; in Western Asia, by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (UN-ESCWA) and in the CIS countries by Russia. AfDB has been managing the Africa program since 2002, the first time an African institution assumed such responsibility since the inception of ICP. The previous ICP rounds for Africa were managed by Eurostat.
The ICP 2011 results answer a number of key questions relating to the Africa region: Which are the largest and smallest economies? Which are the poorer and richer ones compared to the regional average? How do price levels vary across the region? And which countries appear to enjoy the highest welfare levels, etc.
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