The World Bank projected that the economy in sub–Saharan Africa would grow by 3.1 per cent in 2018 and to average 3.6 per cent between 2019 to 2020.
Albert Zeufack, Chief Economist, Africa, said this on Wednesday in Washington, at the launch of Africa’s Pulse, a bi-annual analysis of the state of African economies conducted by the World Bank.
The launch of the publication was streamed live in Abuja and other African cities.
Zeufack said though growth had rebounded in Africa, it was not enough as the continent was still far from the pre-crisis growth levels.
He said the growth forecasts were premised on expectations that the prices of oil and metals would remain stable.
He added the forecast was also based on expectation that governments in the region would implement reforms to address macroeconomic imbalances and boost investment.
He also said Africa must leverage on innovation to provide access to affordable and sustainable electricity.
“African governments must speed up and deepen macroeconomic and structural reforms to achieve high and sustained levels of growth.
“By fully embracing technology and leveraging innovation, Africa can boost productivity across and within sectors, and accelerate growth,” said Zeufack.
According to him, the moderate pace of economic expansion reflects the gradual pick-up in growth in the region’s three largest economies: Nigeria, Angola and South Africa.
“Elsewhere, economic activity will pick up in some metals exporters, as mining production and investment rise.
“Among non-resource intensive countries, solid growth, supported by infrastructure investment, will continue in the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU), led by Côte d’Ivoire and Senegal.
“Growth prospects have strengthened in most of East Africa, owing to improving agriculture sector growth following droughts and a rebound in private sector credit growth.
“In Ethiopia, growth will remain high, as government-led infrastructure investment continues,” he said.
Punam Chuhan-Pole, World Bank Lead Economist, said African countries should pay more attention to rising debt as the composition and structure of debt in Africa had changed causing certain risks.
She said the composition and structure of the debts raised the risks of what countries would face when they needed to refinance debt in the future.
She added that they needed to focus on managing these risks and debt in general.
“Public debt relative to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is rising in the region and the composition of debt has changed, as countries have shifted away from traditional concessional sources of financing toward more market-based ones.
“Higher debt burdens and the increasing exposure to market risks raise concerns about debt sustainability as 18 countries were classified at high-risk of debt distress in March 2018, compared with eight in 2013.
“For many African countries, the economic recovery is vulnerable to fluctuations in commodity prices and production and this underscores the need for countries to build resilience by pushing diversification strategies to the top of the policy agenda,” she said.
Also, Mr Michael Toman, World Bank Research Manager, said that no economy could fully exist without subsistent electricity.
He said electricity was very important to women’s wellbeing as they needed it to carry out various activities in their homes.
He said individuals could not provide the level of electricity needed to sustain them and their businesses.
Another contributor, Mr Khairy Al-Jamal, Head of Office, Abuja, said the World Bank would continue to support Nigeria in implementing reforms to tackle macroeconomic imbalances and boost investment, in agriculture, power, water, transport, education and health sectors.
He also said the report recognised Nigeria as one of the few sub-Saharan countries undertaking significant regulatory reforms to lower barriers in mini-grid investment.
“The report highlights a moderate strengthening of economic growth and we are fully committed to support long-term growth.
“We will continue to work with the Nigerian government so they can collect sufficient revenue, spend their resources well, adopt the policies that enable private sector investments and improve governance overall,” he said.
The 17th issue of Africa’s Pulse focuses specially on the role of innovation in accelerating electrification in Sub-Saharan Africa and its implications of achieving inclusive economic growth and poverty reduction.
The report says achieving universal electrification in Sub-Saharan Africa will require a combination of solutions involving the national grid, as well as “mini-grids” and “micro-grids” serving small concentrations of electricity users, and off-grid home-scale systems.
It also says improving regulation of the electricity sector and better management of utilities remain key to success.