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African Development Bank: Manufacturing key to boost economic growth and job creation in East Africa – Regional Economic Outlook Report

16/04/2019
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The manufacturing sector will hold the key to future growth in East Africa, the African Development Bank’s lead Economist for the Bank’s East Africa Regional Office has emphasised.

Speaking during the launch ceremony of the report held 4 April in Nairobi, Kenya, Dr Marcellin Ndong-Ntah said the manufacturing sector’s potential to accelerate regional economic growth, generate more job creation, and ultimately reduce poverty was significant.

“In order to achieve this objective, countries must continue to look for alternative sectors of economic growth, emphasise regional trade and continue to process goods for export rather than selling raw commodities,” Ndong-Ntah said.

Mr. Gabriel Negatu, Director General of the Bank’s East Africa Regional Development and Business Delivery Office East Africa Regional Office, said robust economic growth was possible in countries taking steps to move their economies away from reliance on export of raw commodities like tea, coffee, minerals and oil.

 Economic growth across East Africa will remain robust at 5.9 percent in 2019, higher than the continental average annual growth rate of 4% and making it a promising investment and manufacturing destination, according to the 2019 East African Economic Outlook Report

The report puts Ethiopia in the lead as the fastest growing economy in the region with an average annual growth rate of 8.2% followed by Rwanda next at 7.8%; Others are Tanzania at 6.6%; Kenya 6%, Djibouti 5.9% and Uganda 5.3%.

Overall, most of the economies in East Africa are expected to continue on higher growth trajectories, with an expected average annual economic growth of 6.1% in 2020. This will be driven by the high investment rate, robust private consumption from the demand side; and agriculture recovery, and expansion of industry and services from the supply side, the report noted.

Dr. Abraham Mwenda, Lead Economist at the Bank’s East Africa Regional Office noted that despite rising debt levels across the continent, there is no systemic risk of debt crisis yet. He also noted that even though many African countries are recording robust growth rates, the growth is still insufficient to address the employment challenge across the continent.

On regional integration, the regional report noted that there are numerous opportunities for fostering monetary unions, cross-border transportation, and regulatory bonds to increase the ease of movement of goods, services and people. The region’s 5 landlocked countries and presence of small island states such as the Comoros and Seychelles also offer opportunities for integration. This is consistent with the key findings of the Continental Economic Outlook Report. In fact, the continental report emphasizes that regional integration is imperative for African economies because it (i) Increases market size and boosts trade among members by removing trade barriers, (ii) helps to exploit economies of scale, enhances competition and increases cross-border investments, and (iii) at a deeper level, fosters peace and security.

Present at the launch, Prof. Njuguna Ndung’u, Executive Director of African Economic Research Consortium (AERC) and former Governor of Central Bank of Kenya,, praised the high quality of the report and highlighted its utilization as a key tool for policymakers, academics, investors, development and financial industry professionals and the press for engagement on policy issues and solutions across the region.

The ceremony was attended by eminent economists and representatives of the development agencies, private sector and industry drawn from across East Africa.

Access the East Africa and Continental reports here


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