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. 29, April 2024: Tackling Inequality to Revitalize Growth and Reduce Poverty in Africa
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2024-04-08) World Bank
    Economic growth is expected to rebound in Sub-Saharan Africa, supported by increased private consumption and declining inflation in 2024. However, this positive outlook remains fragile due to uncertain global economic conditions, low fiscal buffers, growing debt service obligation, costly external borrowing, and escalating conflict and violence, which continue to weigh on economic activity in the region. Despite the projected boost in growth, the pace of economic expansion in the region remains slow and insufficient to significantly affect poverty reduction. Structural inequality is at the core of these challenges and tackling it can help to restore growth and accelerate poverty reduction. While domestic resource mobilization and support from the international community can help alleviate the region's funding squeeze, investing in human capital, and strengthening local capacity for service delivery can build people's capacity to seize market opportunities. Policies that boost market access by addressing institutional distortions and market imperfections are also critical for fostering inclusive growth.
  • Publication
    Africa’s Pulse, No. 28, October 2023: Delivering Growth to People through Better Jobs
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2023-10-04) World Bank
    Growth in Sub-Saharan Africa is expected to slow to 2.5 percent in 2023 from 3.6 percent in 2022. It is projected to increase to 3.7 percent in 2024 and 4.1 percent in 2025. However, in per capita terms, the region is projected to slightly contract over 2015-2025. The region faces many challenges, including a "lost decade" of sluggish growth, persistently low per capita income, mounting fiscal pressures exacerbated by high debt burdens, and an urgent need for job creation. Tackling these multifaceted issues requires comprehensive reforms to promote economic prosperity, reduce poverty, and create sustainable employment opportunities in the region. This will require an ecosystem that facilitates firm entry, stability, growth, and skill development that matches business demand.
  • Publication
    Africa’s Pulse, No. 27, April 2023: Leveraging Resource Wealth During the Low Carbon Transition
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2023-04-05) World Bank
    Economic growth in Sub-Saharan Africa slowed to 3.6 percent in 2022, from 4.1 percent in 2021 but may be bottoming out. Weak investment growth and macroeconomic instability are weighing on economic activity. Inflation remains persistently high and above target despite early and sizable interest rate increase. Amid unfavorable global financial conditions and high levels of debt, African policymakers must bank on their domestic policy space to restore macroeconomic stability, deepen structural reforms to foster inclusive growth, and implement policies that harness the region's resource wealth during the low carbon transmission. This natural wealth holds significant untapped economic potential to address fiscal challenges and drive economic transformation. The low carbon transition is irreversible and will be intensive in the minerals required for the clean energy transition, many of which are abundant across Africa.
  • Publication
    Africa's Pulse, No. 26, October 2022 : Food System Opportunities in a Turbulent Time: Opportunités pour le Système Alimentaire dans une Période de Turbulence
    (Washington, DC : World Bank, 2022-10-04) Calderon, Cesar; Kabundi, Alain; Kubota, Megumi; Korman, Vijdan; Goyal, Aparajita; Eliste, Paavo; Forget, Vanina Daphne
    African economies are facing a series of challenges to their post-pandemic recovery. Economic activity in the region is slowing to 3.3 percent amid global headwinds, including weak global growth and tightening global financial conditions. Elevated inflation rates and resulting policy tightening, as well as the rising risk of debt distress, are also impacting economic activity. While food insecurity in Sub-Saharan Africa was increasing before the onset of Covid-19, the pandemic and the food and energy crisis have contributed to the recent steep increase in food insecurity and malnutrition. Climate shocks, low productivity in agriculture, lack of infrastructure also contribute to rising food insecurity in the region. The economic fallout from the multiple crises affecting the region has lowered household incomes, increased poverty, widen inequality and heightened food insecurity. This report discusses short-term measures combined with medium- to long-term policy actions that can strengthen African countries' capacity to build resilience and seize opportunities to unlock productivity-enhancing growth while protecting the poor and vulnerable.
  • Publication
    Africa's Pulse, No. 25, April 2022
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2022-04-13) Zeufack, Albert G.; Kabundi, Alain; Kubota, Megumi; Korman, Vijdan; Raju, Dhushyanth; Abreha, Kaleb Girma; Kassa, Woubet; Owusu, Solomon
    Sub-Saharan Africa's recovery from the pandemic is expected to decelerate in 2022 amid a slowdown in global economic activity, continued supply constraints, outbreaks of new coronavirus variants, climatic shocks, high inflation, and rising financial risks due to high and increasingly vulnerable debt levels. The war in Ukraine has exacerbated the already existing tensions and vulnerabilities affecting the continent. Given the sources of growth in the region and the nature of the economic linkages with Russia and Ukraine, the war in Ukraine might have a marginal impact on economic growth and on overall poverty—as this shock affects mostly the urban poor and vulnerable people living just above the poverty line. However, its largest impact is on the increasing likelihood of civil strife as a result of food- and energy-fueled inflation amid an environment of heightened political instability. The looming threats of stagflation require a two-pronged strategy that combines short-term measures to contain inflationary pressures and medium-to-long-term policies that accelerate the structural transformation and create more and better jobs. In response to supply shocks, monetary policy in the region may prove ineffective to bring down inflation and other short-run options may be restricted by the lack of fiscal space. Concessional financing might be key to helping countries alleviate the impact of food and fuel inflation. Over the medium term, avoiding stagflation may require a combination of actionable measures that improve the resilience of the economy by shoring up productivity and job creation. Lastly, ongoing actions to enhance social protection—including dynamic delivery systems for rapid scalability and shock-sensitive financing—could be strengthened further to improve economic resilience against shocks and foster investments in productive assets.
  • Publication
    Africa's Pulse, No. 24, October 2021: An Analysis of Issues Shaping Africa’s Economic Future
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2021-10-06) Zeufack, Albert G.; Kubota, Megumi; Korman, Vijdan; Cantu Canales, Catalina; Kabundi, Alain Ntumba
    In 2021, Sub-Saharan Africa emerged from the recession, but its recovery is still timid and fragile. The region is projected to grow at a rate of 3.3 percent—a weaker pace of recovery than that of advanced and emerging market economies. In 2022–23, the region is projected to grow at rates below 4 percent; however, growth above 5 percent is attainable with rapid vaccine deployment in the region and thereby withdrawal of COVID-19 containment measures. In response to the pandemic, African countries are undertaking structural and economic reforms. Countries have been relatively disciplined on monetary and fiscal policies. However, limited fiscal space is handicapping African countries in injecting the fiscal resources required to launch a vigorous policy response to COVID-19.Accelerating the economic recovery in the region would require significant additional externalfinancing, in addition to rapid deployment of the vaccine. Africa’s unique conditions, such as low baseline development, preexisting climate vulnerabilities, low use of fossil fuel energy, and high reliance on climate-sensitive agriculture, pose additional challenges from climate change, but also provide opportunities to build and use greener technologies. Climate change should be considered by policymakers as a source of structural change. For instance, the energy access problem in the region can be solved by the adoption of renewable energy alongside expansion of the national grid. Policy makers need domestic and international financing to create new jobs—including green jobs. For example, in a region where much of the infrastructure, cities, and transportation systems are yet to be built, investments in climate-smart infrastructure can help cities create jobs. In resource-rich countries, wealth exposure to carbon risk can be reduced by fostering asset diversification that supports human and renewable natural capital accumulation. Financing climate change adaptation in Sub-Saharan Africa is essential, and policies to mobilize resources are critical to create more, better, and sustainable jobs.
  • 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. 22, October 2020: An Analysis of Issues Shaping Africa’s Economic Future
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2020-10-07) Calderon, Cesar; Zeufack, Albert G.; Kambou, Gerard; Kubota, Megumi; Cantu Canales, Catalina; Korman, Vijdan
    COVID-19 has taken a large toll on economic activity in Sub-Saharan Africa, putting a decade of hard-won economic progress at risk. The pandemic is pushing the region into its first recession in 25 years. In 2020, GDP per capita is expected to contract by 6.5 percent in Sub-Saharan Africa and by the end of 2021, it’s likely to have regressed back to its 2007’s level. As a consequence, COVID-19 could push up to 43 million people into extreme poverty in Africa, erasing at least five years of progress in fighting poverty. The road to recovery will be long, steep, and must be paved with sound economic policies. Countries need to reconstitute fiscal space to help finance programs that can stimulate recovery. Better debt transparency and management, better service delivery, civil society engagement and less corruption will be critical. Ultimately, sustained recovery will depend on how fast African countries prioritize policy actions and investment that address the challenge of creating more, better and inclusive jobs. These policy priorities, in turn, operate through three critical (an inter-related) channels: the digital transformation, the sectoral reallocation, and the the spatial integration. Countries must expand digital infrastructure and make connectivity affordable, reliable and universal across Africa. Shifting resources towards non-traditional economic sectors with higher productivity, lower volatility and greater value addition, fully leveraging the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) will be equally critical. Finally, fostering the reallocation of resources from less to more efficient job-creating locations through enhanced rural-urban, inland-coastal connectivity will be key to jobs and economic transformation. Interestingly, number of countries, especially in the East African Community and in the West African Monetary Union are seizing the opportunity of the crisis to accelerate these reforms.
  • 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. 20, October 2019: An Analysis of Issues Shaping Africa’s Economic Future
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2019-10-09) Calderon, Cesar; Kambou, Gerard; Cantu Canales, Catalina; Korman, Vijdan; Kubota, Megumi; Beegle, Kathleen G.; Christiaensen, Luc; Copley, Amy Elizabeth; Ardisson Decker, Alison; Delavelle, Fannie; Papineni, Sreelakshmi
    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.