Thursday, 6 October 2016

Doubts on the data

Over the past month, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and McKinsey Consulting have finally junked their message of an economically rising Africa. The IMF cuts its 2017 forecast for Nigeria and South Africa to 0.6% and 0.8% respectively, their lowest level for two decades. The messy struggle for the succession in South Africa and two insurgent groups in Nigeria are exacerbating the economic woes.

The World Bank mirrors the IMF's statistical gloom about economic prospects but its newly re-elected President, Jim Yong Kim, wants a more public focus on critical health indicators such as malnutrition and stunting of children. India (47% of children are stunted), Pakistan (45%) and Congo-Kinshasa (43%) have some of the worst records in the world. McKinsey urges a new concentration on African companies, 400 of which generate more than US$1 billion a year in revenue. Investing in these companies will boost wages and taxes but also promote innovation and new technology.

However, the Mo Ibrahim Foundation sounded a sombre warning with a review of the first decade of its governance index. It records an improvement in governance in 37 countries, home to some 70% of the people on the continent. For 78% of people, participation and human rights have improved. But many measures are heading the wrong way: corruption and bureaucracy worsened by an average of 8.7% and in two-thirds of countries, there has been a marked decline in the freedom of expression.

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