Caught between a more slowly growing China and the nationalist and protectionist reflexes of President Donald Trump's United States government, Africa is in pressing need of an economic boost. Last year marked a harsh coda to the commodity boom, with the continent's biggest economies treading water or in recession. Initially, the international financial institutions forecast a turnaround starting in 2017 after average growth rates of 1.3%, the lowest for two decades. Already they are qualifying their optimism.
Both the International Monetary Fund and World Bank have cut
their average African growth forecasts to 2.6% this year, down from
January’s 2.9%. They have also cut Africa growth forecasts by four
percentage points for 2018. Four key factors inform the grimmer
predictions: continuing weakness in the four biggest economies
(Nigeria, South Africa, Egypt and Algeria) which make up almost
two-thirds of African output; continuing low foreign and local
investment; shrinking access to international finance for companies and
governments; and heightened political risks, such as the lack of
effective policies in South Africa or Nigeria, prospects of difficult
elections and transitions in Kenya
and Angola, and conflict in
Again, impressive growth is forecast in the brightest economic
spots, such as Ethiopia, Senegal and Tanzania, but their economies are
still not big enough to power a more generalised regional recovery.