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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    Africa's Pulse, No. 25, April 2022
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2022-04-13) Zeufack, Albert G. ; Calderon, Cesar ; 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.
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    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. ; Calderon, Cesar ; 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.
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    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. ; Calderon, Cesar ; 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.
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    Africa's Pulse, No. 22, October 2020: An Analysis of Issues Shaping Africa’s Economic Future
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2020-10-07) Zeufack, Albert G. ; Calderon, Cesar ; 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.
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    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. ; Calderon, Cesar ; 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.
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    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.
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    Africa's Pulse, September 2011 : An Analysis of Issues Shaping Africa's Economic Future
    (Washington, DC, 2011-09) World Bank
    This Africa's pulse newsletter includes the following heading: recent economic trends; and the challenge of employment in Africa: raising the productivity of the informal sector.