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Africa’s economic performance in 2013 demonstrates resilience to global headwinds

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Africa recorded nearly 4% GDP growth in 2013, a two-percentage point decline compared to 2012, according to the 2013 operations results released by the African Development Bank Group (AfDB) on Wednesday, May 21 in Kigali, Rwanda.

According to the financial report jointly presented by the Bank’s Finance Vice-President, Charles Boamah and Treasury Director, Pierre Van Peteghem, growth was generally driven by investments (FDI tripled), urban demand, trade, natural resources, as well as bounties from infrastructure and good policies put in place in the countries.

Africa’s performance compares favourably with that of the rest of the world in 2013, considering declining growth among emerging economies in Asia and Latin America, which recorded 6.6% and 3%, respectively; and slow recovery in the developed world – notably the US (1.5%), the Eurozone where it actually fell by 0.4% and Japan (2%).

Growth has also been well distributed among sub-regions as the continent has demonstrated considerable resilience in the face of the slow recovery of the global economy.

Natural resources continue to power growth in 2013, especially among major oil-producing regions. But the less endowed countries also performed reasonably well, depending on good policies to attract domestic and foreign investment. While isolated examples of economic setbacks indicate the need for diligence in addressing deep-seated economic inequalities and in the provision of social services.

Africa as a whole is expected to grow at 4.8% and 5.8% during 2014 and 2015, respectively.

According to the report, individual typologies show that growth in post-conflict and conflict-affected economies was relatively high in 2013. They ranged from double digits for the Democratic Republic of Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone and South Sudan. Fourteen of the 18 countries that can access the Bank’s Fragile States Facility posted growth rates of 3% or above in 2013.

On the down side, strife-torn Central African Republic was the exception, with growth declining by over 10% in 2013.

The report also showed that many low-income countries (also known as factor-driven) that depend more on agriculture, minerals, other than oil and light manufacturing, performed well in 2013, in spite of weak global demand. For instance, 17 countries in this category led by Ethiopia with over 7%, registered growth that was above 3% on average. Eleven countries in this category grew between 5% and 7%.

Angola, Gabon and Nigeria recorded the highest rates among oil-producing countries with figures ranging from 5% to 7%. Equatorial Guinea saw growth fall below 1% in 2013 from above 5% in 2012, following the exhaustion of a major oil field. In the case of Libya, socio-economic disruptions during the year prevented the rolling out of new investment, and led to growth falling below 1%.

Investment-driven economies registered growth rates of about 4% on average, comparable to those of their peers – low middle income economies – elsewhere in the world. Six countries were in this category, posting growth rates of 3% and above. The tourist sectors in Kenya, Morocco and Seychelles continued to perform well, but manufacturing performance was below expectations. Cape Verde, Egypt, South Africa and Tunisia grew at below 3%.

In regional terms, Central Africa grew by 4.4% compared to about 6% in 2012. But prospects worsened significantly by the end of 2013 as armed conflict ensued in the Central African Republic.

East Africa grew by 6.3% on average, about 1% higher than 2012. In North Africa growth was 1.7% in 2013, a decline of more than eight percentage points compared with 2012, owing to social unrest in some countries.

Southern Africa averaged 3% in 2013, indicating little change from 2012, while West Africa grew by 6.2%, a decrease of 0.5% on the previous year, according to the Financial and Development Effectiveness Presentation made on the occasion of the Bank’s 2014 Annual Meetings.

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