Sub Saharan Africa recovery strengthens: World Bank


Sub-Saharan Africa will grow by up to 4.2 percent in 2010 after expansion of 1.7 percent last year, helped by booming telecoms and commodity sectors, a senior World Bank official said.

Earlier World Bank forecasts projected growth of 3.8 % this year before reaching 4.6 % in 2011.
“The continent is now focused on the rebound for growth and should be posting between 3.8 to 4.2 percent in 2010,” Obiageli Ezekwesili, the bank’s vice president for Africa, told Reuters.

But she cautioned the reform of key economic sectors would be pivotal to increasing global competitiveness and sustaining higher growth rates.
“Essentially, policy reform related improvements will be the sine qua non for sustaining the growth, so every country needs to reform all important sectors of the economy,” Ezekwesili said in an interview in the Ugandan capital Kampala.

She said many of the region’s economies would benefit from boosting private sector involvement in key sectors.
“Reform your agriculture sector, reform your energy sector, reform your financial services, reform your transportation sector, deregulate certain aspects of the economy where there’s lack of private sector activity and then you would really raise opportunities for growth.”

Investing in the agricultural sector’s productivity would have a positive impact on the broadest section of the region’s population, she said.

The Washington-based bank is expected to invest around $1 billion in agriculture in Africa in 2010, down from last year’s $1.5 billion, she said.

The global slump rocked Africa’s economies as commodity prices fell heavily, exports were subdued and tourism slowed.
“The recovery for Africa has started. Africa needs an above 7.2 percent growth in order to make a big dent on the still too high (poverty levels) in the continent,” she said.

Resurgent commodity output and prices were seen helping drive the region’s economic rebound in countries such as Zambia, Kenya, and Democratic Republic of Congo.

But Ezekwesili warned of the perils of letting corruption infest the region’s rapidly expanding commodity sectors, saying Uganda should be especially careful to avoid corruption in its vital new oil sector.

East Africa’s third largest economy struck oil in 2006 and reserves are estimated at about 2 billion barrels. Commercial production is set to begin later this year.
“You have to make corruption costly for those who engage in it. Corruption is a terrible tax on the poor,” she said.