A recent World Bank projection said in 2021, sub-Saharan Africa’s growth will rise to between 2.3 per cent and 3.4 per cent, compared with the 2.7 per cent it projected for the region in January.
This was contained in a forecast by the bank yesterday, in its latest Africa Pulse report titled, “The Future of Work in Africa: Emerging Trends in Digital Technology Adoption”.
The bank however said its projection depended on policies adopted by countries and the international community.
Although the report notes that a slower spread of the virus and lower COVID- 19-related mortality, strong agricultural growth, as well as a faster-than-expected recovery in commodity prices have helped mitigate the impact of COVID-19 crisis on many African economies, recovery will hinge on countries’ deepening reforms that create jobs, encourage investment, and enhance competitiveness.
According to the report, the resurgence of the pandemic in late 2020 and limited additional fiscal support will pose a challenge for policy makers as they continue to work towards stronger growth and improved livelihoods for their people.
It also said that a second wave of COVID-19 infections was partly dragging down the 2021 growth projections, with daily infections about 40 per cent higher than during the first wave.
The report observed that, while some countries had a significant drop in infections due to containment measures adopted by their governments, others are facing an upward trend in infections.
Forecasting a real GDP growth of 3.1 per cent for the region in 2022, the World Bank said that economic activity for most sub- Saharan Africa countries would remain well below the pre-COVID-19 projections at the end of 2021, thereby increasing the risk of long-lasting damage from the pandemic on people’s living standards.
The bank stated that recovery in the region was expected to vary across countries, with non-resource- intensive countries, such as Côte d’Ivoire and Kenya, and mining-dependent economies, such as Botswana and Guinea, likely to see robust growth in 2021, driven by a rebound in private consumption and investment as confidence strengthens and exports increase.
The bank specifically stated that growth in the western and Central Africa sub-region contracted by 1.1 per cent in 2020, less than projected in October 2020 partly due to a less severe contraction in Nigeria, the sub-region’s largest economy, in the second half of the year.
It further said that it forecasts real GDP for the sub-region to grow 2.1 per cent in 2021 and 3.0 per cent in 2022.
For the Eastern and Southern Africa sub-region, the World Bank said growth contraction for 2020 was estimated at -3.0 per cent, mostly driven by South Africa and Angola, the sub-region’s largest economies, adding that excluding Angola and South Africa, economic activity in the sub-region is projected to expand by 2.6 per cent in 2021, and 4.0 per cent in 2022.
It notes that African countries can speed up their recovery by intensifying their existing efforts to support the economy and people in the near term, especially women, youth and other vulnerable groups.
The report recommends that such efforts should be complemented by reforms that foster nations’ inclusive productivity growth and competitiveness.