Africa's Pulse

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Africa’s Pulse is a biannual publication containing an analysis of the near-term macroeconomic outlook for the region. Each issue also includes a section focusing upon a topic that represents a particular development challenge for the continent. It is produced by the Office of the Chief Economist for the Africa Region of the World Bank.

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  • Publication
    Africa's Pulse, No. 23, April 2021: An Analysis of Issues Shaping Africa’s Economic Future
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2021-04) Zeufack, Albert G.; Kambou, Gerard; Kubota, Megumi; Korman, Vijdan; Cantu Canales, Catalina; Aviomoh, Henry E.
    The economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in Sub-Saharan Africa has been severe; however, countries are weathering the storm so far. Real GDP is estimated to contract by 2.0 percent in 2020—close to the lower bound of the forecast range in April 2020, and less than the contraction in advanced economies and other emerging markets and developing economies, excluding China. Available data from the second half of 2020 point to rebound in economic activity that explain why the contraction in the region was in the lower bound of the forecasts. It reflected a slower spread of the virus and lower COVID-19-related mortality in the region, strong agricultural growth, and a faster-than-expected recovery in commodity prices. Economic activity in the region is expected to rise to a range between2.3 and 3.4 percent in 2021, depending on the policy measures adopted by countries and the international community. However, prospects for a slow vaccine rollout, the resurgence of pandemic, and limited scope for additional fiscal support, could hold back the recovery in the region. Policies to support the economy in the near term should be complemented by structural reforms that encourage sustained investment, create jobs and enhance competitiveness. Reducing the countries’ debt burden will release resources for public investment, in areas such as education, health, and infrastructure. Investments in human capital will help lower the risk of long-lasting damage from the pandemic which may become apparent over the longer term, and can enhance competitiveness and productivity. The next twelve months will be a critical period for leveraging the African Continental Free Trade Area in order to deepen African countries’ integration into regional and global value chains. Finally, reforms that address digital infrastructure gaps and make the digital economy more inclusive –ensuring affordability but also building skills for all segments of society, are critical to improve connectivity, boost digital technology adoption, and generate more and better jobs for men and women.
  • Publication
    Africa's Pulse, No. 21, Spring 2020: An Analysis of Issues Shaping Africa’s Economic Future
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2020-04-08) Zeufack, Albert G.; Kambou, Gerard; Djiofack, Calvin Z.; Kubota, Megumi; Korman, Vijdan; Cantu Canales, Catalina
    The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on human life and brought major disruption to economic activity across the world. Despite a late arrival, the COVID-19 virus has spread rapidly across Sub-Saharan Africa in recent weeks. Eeconomic growth in Sub-Saharan Africa is projected to decline from 2.4 percent in 2019 to -2.1 to -5.1 percent in 2020, the first recession in the region in 25 years. The coronavirus is hitting the region’s three largest economies —Nigeria, South Africa, and Angola— in a context of persistently weak growth and investment. In particular, countries that depend on oil and mining exports would be hit the hardest. The negative impact of the COVID-19 crisis on household welfare would be equally dramatic. African policymakers need to develop a two-pronged strategy of “saving lives and protecting livelihoods.” This strategy includes (short-term) relief measures and (medium-term) recovery measures aimed at strengthening health systems, providing income support to workers and liquidity support to viable businesses. However, financing of these policies will be challenging amid deteriorating fiscal positions and heightened public debt vulnerabilities. Therefore, African countries will require financial assistance from their development partners -including COVID-19 related multilateral assistance and a debt service stand still with official bilateral creditors.
  • Publication
    Africa's Pulse, No. 19, April 2019: An Analysis of Issues Shaping Africa’s Economic Future
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2019-04-08) Calderon, Cesar; Kambou, Gerard; Korman, Vijdan; Kubota, Megumi; Cantu Canales, Catalina
    Economic growth in Sub-Saharan Africa is estimated to have decelerated from 2.5 percent in 2017 to 2.3 percent in 2018, below the rate of growth of population for a fourth consecutive year. Regional growth in 2018 is below the pace projected in 2018 October issue of Africa's Pulse {0.4 percentage points lower). This slowdown was more pronounced in the first half of 2018 and it reflected weaker exports among the region's large oil exporters (Nigeria and Angola) due to dwindling oil production amid higher but volatile international prices for crude petroleum. A deeper contraction in Sudanese economic activity and a broad-based growth slowdown among non-resource-intensive countries also played a role. Sub-Saharan African countries with fragile context have made considerable efforts to find a way out of fragility. Regional and sub-regional economic organizations are promoting economic cooperation and addressing security and peace challenges that go beyond national borders. The special topic of this issue of Africa's Pulse argues that the digital economy can unlock new pathways for inclusive growth, innovation, job creation, service delivery and poverty reduction in Africa. The continent has made. great strides in mobile connectivity; however, it still lags the rest of the world in access to broadband. Only 27 percent of the population in the continent have access to internet, few citizens have digital IDs, businesses are slowly adopting digital technologies and only few governments are investing strategically in developing digital infrastructure, services, skills, and entrepreneurship.
  • Publication
    Africa's Pulse, No.13, April 2016
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2016-04-11) Chuhan-Pole, Punam; Calderon, Cesar; Kambou, Gerard; Boreux, Sebastien; Buitano, Mapi M.; Korman, Vijdan; Kubota, Megumi; Lopez-Monti, Rafael M.
    Urbanization is a source of dynamism that can enhance productivity and increase economic integration, a principle evident from the experience of today’s high-income countries and rapidly emerging economies. Indeed, during the Industrial Age, no country has achieved sustained increases in national income without urbanization. If well managed, cities can help countries accelerate growth and “open the doors” to global markets in two ways: by creating productive environments that attract international investment and increase economic efficiency; and by creating livable environments that prevent urban costs from rising excessively with increased densification. By generating agglomeration economies, cities can enhance productivity and spur innovation and national economic diversification. The underlying reason for this is economic density. This report includes the following highlights: growth will remain lackluster in Sub-Saharan Africa in 2016, weighed down by low and volatile commodity prices; addressing growing economic vulnerabilities and developing new sources of sustainable, inclusive growth are key priorities for the region; and Africa’s rapid urbanization offers a potential springboard for economic diversification. But building cities that work will require reforming land markets and urban regulations, and coordinating early infrastructure investments.
  • Publication
    Africa's Pulse, October 2013 : An Analysis of Issues Shaping Africa's Economic Future
    (Washington, DC, 2013-10) World Bank
    This Africa's pulse newsletter includes the following headings: economic prospects for Sub-Saharan Africa remain strong, but growth is vulnerable to a sharp decline in commodity prices; the region's progress on reducing poverty has been slow, hindered by high inequality; and faster reduction in poverty will require growth with equity.
  • Publication
    Africa's Pulse, October 2012 : An Analysis of Issues Shaping Africa's Economic Future
    (Washington, DC, 2012-10) World Bank
    This Africa's pulse newsletter includes the following headings: Sub-Saharan African countries continue to grow at a steady pace; the region's decade-long economic expansion appears sustainable; and for newly resource-rich countries, strong governance will be key to harnessing resource wealth for development.
  • Publication
    Africa's Pulse, October 2010 : An Analysis of Issues Shaping Africa's Economic Future
    (Washington, DC, 2010-10) World Bank
    This Africa's pulse newsletter includes the following heading: recent economic trends and prospects; country policy and institutional assessment: results and trends for Sub-Saharan Africa; and Sub-Saharan Africa: advancing toward the millennium development goals (MDGs).
  • Publication
    Africa's Pulse, April 2010 : An Analysis of Trends Shaping Africa's Economic Future
    (Washington, DC, 2010-04) World Bank
    This Africa's pulse newsletter includes the following headings: recent economic trends and prospects; Africa and the millennium development goals; and yes Africa can: success stories from a dynamic continent.