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. 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.
  • 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 2015
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2015-10-05) Chuhan-Pole, Punam; Calderon, Cesar; Kambou, Gerard; Boreux, Sebastien; Buitano, Mapi M.; Korman, Vijdan; Kubota, Megumi
    External headwinds and domestic difficulties are impacting economic activity in Sub-Saharan Africa. Sub-Saharan Africa’s growth will decelerate in 2015 amid weak global economic conditions. Some countries, however, will continue posting solid growth. Sub-Saharan Africa is entering a period of tightening borrowing conditions amid growing domestic and external vulnerabilities. Reflecting the widening fiscal deficits, government debt has continued to rise in many countries. Weak fundamentals, combined with the strong appreciation of the U.S. dollar, have kept currencies across the region under pressure throughout the year. Policy buffers are low in several countries, constraining the response to the current environment and underscoring the need for African countries to improve domestic resource mobilization and enhance public expenditure efficiency. Progress in reducing income poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa may have been faster than the authors thought, but poverty remains high. The region’s growth deceleration challenges efforts to reduce poverty.
  • Publication
    Africa's Pulse, April 2015
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2015-04) Chuhan-Pole, Punam; Ferreira, Francisco H.G.; Calderon, Cesar; Christiaensen, Luc; Evans, David; Kambou, Gerard; Boreux, Sebastien; Korman, Vijdan; Kubota, Megumi; Buitano, Mapi; Chuhan-Pole, Punam; Ferreira, Francisco H.G.; Litwack, John; Savescu, Cristina; Tchana Tchana, Fulbert
    Africa’s Pulse is a biannual publication containing an analysis of the near-term macro-economic outlook for the region. It also includes a section focusing on a topic that represents a particular development challenges for the continent. It is produced by the Office of the Chief Economist for the Africa Region.This issue is an analysis of issues shaping Africa's economic future. Growth remains stable in Sub-Saharan Africa. Some countries are seeing a slowdown, but the region's economic prospects remain broadly favorable. External risks of higher global financial market volatility and lower growth in emerging market economies weigh on the downside. In several Sub-Saharan African countries, large budgetary imbalances are a source of vulnerability to exogenous shocks and underscore the need for rebuilding fiscal buffers in these countries. The Ebola outbreak is exacting a heavy human and economic toll on affected countries and, if not rapidly contained, the risk of wider contagion grows. Without a scale-up of effective interventions, growth would slow markedly not only in the core countries (Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone), but also in the sub region as transportation, cross-border trade, and supply chains are severely disrupted. In Sub-Saharan Africa, growth in agriculture and services is more effective at reducing poverty than growth in industry. Structural transformation has a role to play in accelerating poverty reduction in Sub-Saharan Africa. Increasing agricultural productivity will be critical to fostering structural transformation. Boosting rural income diversification can facilitate this transformation, as well. Investments in rural public goods and services (for example, education, health, rural roads, electricity and ICT), including in small towns, will be conducive to lifting productivity in the rural economy. Although Sub-Saharan Africa's pattern of growth has largely bypassed manufacturing, growing the region's manufacturing base, especially by improving its fundamentals, lower transport cost, cheaper and more reliable power, and a more educated labor force, will benefit all sectors.