Sub-Saharan Africa to grow at a slower rate this year – World Bank

ABUJA – The economy of sub-Saharan Africa is seen growing more slowly this year than previously forecast, largely due to weak investment and productivity, the World Bank has said.

In a report, it forecast growth in the region to be 2.4 per cent in 2017, down from the 2.6 per cent that it projected in April. But growth was seen rising to 3.2 per cent in 2018 and 3.5 per cent in 2019, forecasts unchanged from earlier this year.

In its latest Africa Pulse report relesed on Wednesday, the Bank said the region would be helped by better commodity prices. Lower prices have slowed overall growth in the resource-rich region in the last few years, cutting government revenues.

Sub-Saharan Africa’s growth was an estimated 1.3 per cent in 2016, the lowest for two decades.

The Bank said the downgrade to 2017 projections was due to various conditions, including the failure of Nigeria - which has Africa’s biggest economy - to meet expectations.

“Regional per capita output growth is forecast to be negative for the second consecutive year, while investment growth remains low, and productivity growth is falling,” it said.

Nigeria escaped from its first recession in 25 years in the second quarter as oil revenues rose following the cessation of militant attacks on energy facilities in the Niger Delta that last year cut crude production by around a third.

World Bank chief economist for Africa Albert Zeufack said sub-Saharan Africa’s recovery would partly be driven by Nigeria and South Africa, the continent’s second biggest economy, which also exited recession in the second quarter.