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Sub-Saharan Africa recorded 5% growth in 2013 – 6% if South Africa is excluded from the figures. These are the findings of the 2013 Annual Report of the African Development Bank (AfDB) published on May 21 in Kigali, Rwanda, as part of the Bank's Annual Meetings.
The document states that the African continent continues to show resilience to the slow recovery of the global economy, although with large variations between countries and regions.
West Africa posted the highest growth rate at about 7% (the same as in 2012), followed by East Africa with roughly 6%, or about two percentage points higher than in 2012. Central Africa, marked by the outbreak of an armed conflict in the Central African Republic that clouded the sub-region's short-term growth prospects, recorded some 4% growth (against 6% in 2012).
For its part, North Africa posted a growth rate of 1.9%, or a drop of approximately eight percentage points when compared to 2012. In southern Africa, the growth rate was around 3%, virtually unchanged from 2012. The low-income countries, including the fragile states, showed a growth rate of around 5% on average. For major oil exporters, growth was strongest in Angola, Gabon and Nigeria, with 5% or more.
As for investment-driven countries, wishing to make manufacturing and services industries the motors of their economies, including those in transition, they recorded growth rates in the order of 3% to 7%.
Overall, inflation fell two percentage points in Africa, to 6.7% in 2013, against 2% in the United States and the European Union and a global average of 6%. Countries have generally maintained prudent fiscal situations.
The average fiscal deficit as a percentage of GDP rose to 3.9% in 2013, against 2.9% in 2012. The current account deficit climbed to 2.5% in 2013, against 1.5% in 2012.
For net oil-exporting countries, the budget surplus fell from 2.3% of GDP in 2012 to 0.8% in 2013, while the current account deficit of oil-importing countries was 8%, against 7.6% in 2012.
Turning to the continent's growth prospects, these should reach nearly 4.8% in 2014 and 5.7% in 2015.
In Central Africa, the growth rate should be around 6% in 2014 and 2015, even though the armed conflict in the Central African Republic may have narrowed growth prospects.
East Africa should record a growth rate around 6% in 2014, but this could increase in the light of new oil and gas discoveries in the region and expected investments in exploration and transport infrastructure.
North Africa is expected to see growth of 3.1% in 2014 and 5.5% in 2015, but this will depend on developments in the region's socio-economic situation.
In southern Africa, the overall growth rate should be between 4% in 2014 and 4.4% in 2015, with some countries, such as Zambia, possibly exceeding 7%.
South Africa – the region’s economic engine – should post 2.7% growth in 2014 and 3% in 2015, slightly better than in recent years. The average growth rate in West Africa should reach 7% in 2014 and 2015, thanks to the development of the natural resources sectors and diversification.