The World Bank Group has described growth in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), especially in three of the region’s big economies, as very slow, in the latest edition of its Africa Pulse report
It said the region recorded a growth of 2.7 percent in 2018 which is a 0.4 percent rise from the 2.3 percent recorded in 2017.
The biannual report said the marginal growth was due to slow expansion in the region’s three largest economies; Nigeria, Angola and South Africa.
Lower oil production in Angola and Nigeria offset higher oil prices, and in South Africa, weak household consumption growth was compounded by a contraction in agriculture, it explained.
According to the Bank’s Chief Economist for Africa, Albert Zuefack, SSA economies must brace themselves for much tougher times ahead.
“To accelerate and sustain an inclusive growth momentum, policy makers must continue to focus on investments that foster human capital, reduce resource misallocation and boost productivity.
“Policymakers in the region must equip themselves to manage new risks arising from changes in the composition of capital flows and debt,” he said via a video conference on Thursday.
However, growth in the region – excluding Angola, Nigeria and South Africa, it added, was steady.
Several oil exporters in Central Africa were helped by higher oil prices and an increase in oil production, it further noted.
The report indicated that unfavorable external factors emanating largely from the Trade War between the United States and China and the continuous appreciation of the US dollar, also contributed to the slow growth.
Public debt remained high and continues to rise in some countries the report observed, noting that vulnerability to weaker currencies and rising interest rates associated with the changing composition of debt may put the region’s public debt sustainability further at risk.
Other domestic risks include fiscal slippage, conflicts, and weather shocks.
On recommendations, it said policies and reforms are needed to strengthen resilience to risks and raise medium-term potential growth.
However, going forward, the World Bank said it is projecting the SSA economy to grow by some 3.3 percent in 2019.