26 April 2010

Africa: Continent's Economy Takes the Fast Lane

Nairobi — In what could be a sign that Africa is shedding its long-standing "basket case" label, the continent is now among the fastest growing regions in the world behind Asia and the Middle East, according to a new analysis from the African Development Bank.

The AFDB report says that with a projected overall growth rate of more than four per cent this year and a gross domestic product of just under $1.5 trillion, the continent's growth is promising.

However, last year the growth was lower than the pre-global economic crisis growth rate of six per cent. AFDB estimates that all African countries are expected to experience higher growth this year compared with last year, with the highest average growth experienced in eastern African countries.

"If the world economy and world trade continue to recover, and oil and non-oil commodity prices remain close to current levels, the outlook for continuing growth this year is extremely promising," said Donald Kaberuka, president of the AFDB.

He added: "With an increasing number of investors willing to take advantage of countless opportunities in Africa and a fast-growing middle class, the contemporary African landscape is not dissimilar from that of Asia a few decades ago."

The Democratic Republic of Congo, with a projected growth rate of 11.8 per cent is expected to be the fastest growing economy.

Other projected high growth rates include Angola, 8.7 per cent, Ethiopia, 6.1 per cent, Liberia, 5.9 per cent, Madagascar, 5.9 per cent, Tanzania, 5.7 per cent, Djibouti, 5.6 per cent and Mozambique 5.5 per cent.

As a region, East Africa was partially shielded from the impact of the global economic crisis because its conservative banking systems were less exposed to Western property and consumer credit markets.

That protection was one reason for the region's continuing growth.At the other extreme, a number of countries hit especially hard by the recession will take longer to recover.

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