Economic Growth May Slow Down in Sub-Saharan Africa – IMF

Growth in sub-Saharan Africa has been projected to remain at 3.2 percent for the rest of 2019 and rise to 3.6% in 2020. This was stated in the Fall 2019 issue of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Regional Economic Outlook (REO) for sub-Saharan Africa themed Navigating Uncertainty.

These represent slower growth rates than was previously projected in the Spring 2019 issue of the IMF Regional Outlook published in April and was said to be a result of partly revised economic growth in two-thirds of sub-Saharan countries, as well as South Africa’s weaker-than-anticipated growth. These countries have been negatively affected by the challenging global environment.

The growth outlook, however, remains split. On the one hand, there are twelve countries including Africa’s two largest economies – Nigeria and South Africa – that are expected to record negative per capita growth rates in 2019.

On the other hand, there are the non-resource intensive economies such as Ghana, Kenya and Rwanda which are expected to maintain strong growth close to six percent, which is well above the global average.

Risks to the regional outlook identified include rising trade and geopolitical tensions globally which may lower growth rate in key trading partners, with a knock-on effect on the region, as well as a significant decline in export growth rate, which is a global trend.

Other downside risks to regional growth identified include weather-related shocks which seem to be occurring more frequently, and intensification of security challenges in certain areas where this is an issue.

The IMF, in the document, proffered immediate solutions such as planned fiscal adjustments to address public debt vulnerabilities. Suitable monetary policies were identified as the major tools to support growth in the phase of elevated external risks, and with gains for only countries where inflation pressure has been subdued and growth is below potential.

The IMF also advised countries to raise medium term growth through structural reforms that create jobs for new entrants into the labour market and help meet the sustainable development goals (SDGs).

Tackling tariff and non-tariff barriers within the African Free Trade Agreement (AFTA) and implementing complementary structural reforms to boost investment and competitiveness of firms will be required to improve midterm growth.

At the public presentation of the Fall 2019 issue of the Regional Economic Outlook which is published biannually by the IMF to review developments in sub-Saharan Africa, held on Wednesday, 27 November, 2019, at the Jupiter Hall of Four Points by Sheraton Hotel, dignitaries invited as discussants gave their remarks about the outlook.

Dr Jumoke Oduwole, Special Adviser to the President on Ease of Doing Business, who noted the importance of regulatory reforms, political interventions and an action plan in fostering desired growth, stated that Nigeria has facilitated about 140 reforms in the last few years to enhance ease of doing  business in the country.

Mr ‘Laoye Jaiyeola, Chief Executive Officer at the Nigeria Economic Summit Group, also noted the importance of institutional governance, policy direction and policy consistencies in sustaining growth.

The Public Presentation of the Fall 2019 issue of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Regional Economic Outlook (REO) for sub-Saharan Africa was executed by the IMF Resident Representative and Mission Chief for Nigeria, Amine Mati, with Dr Andrew S. Nevin, Advisory Partner and Chief Economist at PwC West Africa, as Moderator.



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