Africa Targets 5% Growth By 2015

children queue for food

children queue for food

Economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa is likely to reach more than five percent on average between 2013 and 2015 as a result of high commodity prices worldwide and strong consumer spending on the continent.

According to the World Bank’s latest Africa’s Pulse report, the five percent growth will ensure that the region remains amongst the fastest growing in the world.

The report said despite the global slowdown in 2012 about a quarter of African countries grew at 7 percent higher and a number of African countries, notably Sierra Leone, Niger, Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia, Ethiopia, Burkina Faso and Rwanda were among the fastest growing in the world.

The report forecast that medium-term growth prospect remained strong since it would be supported by a gradually improving world economy, consistently high commodity prices and more investment in regional infrastructure, trade, as well as business growth.

However, the report said Africa’s impressive growth has not reduced poverty enough, suggesting that a number of emerging trends on the continent could help to transform its current state of development in the coming years.

These trends, the report said, include the promise of large revenues from mineral exploitation, rising incomes created by a dramatic expansion of agricultural productivity, large scale migration of people from the countryside into Africa’s towns and cities, and a demographic divide potentially created by Africa’s fast-growing population of young people.

Briefing the media on the report, Punam Chuhan-Pole, World Bank Lead Economist for Africa Region said, ‘Recent discoveries of oil, natural gas, copper and other strategic minerals, and the expansion of several mines or the building of new ones in Mozambique, Niger, Sierra Leone, and Zambia, together with better political and economic governance, are sustaining solid economic growth across the continent.’

She said it was expected that by 2020, only four or five countries in the region would not be involved in mineral exploitation of some kind.

Chuhan-Pole, who is also co-author of the Africa’s Pulse, said that given the considerable amounts of new mineral revenues coming on stream across the region, resource-rich African countries will consciously need to invest these new earnings in health, education, jobs for their people in order to maximize their national development prospects.

Welcoming the new assessment, Vice president of the World Bank, Makhtar Diop called for rapid progress in areas as such as electricity and food in vulnerable areas of the Sahel and The Horn of Africa, adding that more energy and agricultural productivity were needed to raise the quality of life for Africans throughout the continent to reduce poverty significantly.

‘African countries will need to bring more electricity, nutritious food, jobs and opportunity to families and communities across the continent in order to better their lives, end extreme poverty and promote shared prosperity. Without that more electricity and higher agricultural productivity, Africa’s development future cannot prosper. The good news is that governments in Africa are intent on changing this,’ he said.

Diop urged African governments and their development partners to upgrade the continent’s statistical capacity so that the citizens could better measure and monitor their development progress and analyze the reasons for its success and failure, especially in resource-rich countries and fragile states where data gathering and analysis remained weak.

By Cephas Larbi