World Bank on Africa's economy
05 March 2007, The Reporter/allAfrica
Addis Ababa: Africa's economic performance since the mid 1990s is a mixture of remarkable progress, stagnation and where some countries have even seriously lagged behind, the World Bank disclosed in its African Development Indicators 2006 (ADI 2006) publication.
Despite the increasingly diverse economic outcomes however, World Bank says that the continent made uniform progress in social outcomes such as health and education, and its pre capita income is also rising along the same levels as other developing nations.
The indicator which was launched here in Addis Ababa on Thursday showed that 13 African countries accounting to 20 percent of the continent's population had made little or no progress since 1996.
The countries in this group are indicated as having achieved an average annual GDP growth of 1.3 percent annually. This group, in which Swaziland tops the list with an average annual GDP growth of 2.8 percent, also includes Lesotho, Kenya, and Eritrea, among others. Included in this group, Zimbabwe was indicated as the only country in Africa to register a negative GDP growth of 2.4 percent in 2004.
Top performer of the continent was oil exporting Equatorial Guinea with an average growth of 20.9 percent.
Sixteen countries, accounting 33 percent of the total population in Africa were termed as countries that enjoyed sustained growth of an average 5.5 percent GDP growth.
Ethiopia stands at a rank of seventh among these countries with an average growth rate of 5.5 percent.
Data for two countries, Somalia and Liberia was not presented, however they were included in the denominator for calculation of population shares.
Sao Tome and Principe stood last among nine slow growing nations. It had an average 3.1 percent annual growth rate compared to Namibia with an average four percent annual growth of its GDP.
"These countries-many either engaged in conflict or having recently emerged from conflict-host 20 percent of the region's people," the 160 pages World Bank document stated.
Nigeria and South Africa, according to the ADI 2006 accounted for more than half of the continents GDP, with the former recording USD 72 billion and the latter USD 215 billion in 2004.
The rest of Africa's share was put at USD 234 billion for the same year.
Africa also made an encouraging progress in the health and education sectors.
The World Bank says that enrollment rates had significantly increased across the continent, HIV/AIDS prevalence and child mortality rates have began to fall and gender gap has been shrinking in numerous countries.
"Gross primary enrollment rates as a share of the relevant age group-a standard indicator of the investment in the poor-shot up to 93 percent in 2004 from 72 percent in 1990, contributing to literacy rates from 50 percent in 1997 to 65 percent in 2002," Task team leader of ADI 2006, Jorge Saba Arbache said.
The success in primary enrollment, according to Arbache, has not been mirrored in secondary and tertiary education.
The World Bank said that Africa has made tangible progress, and added that it also faces numerous challenges.
"The continent, which received a mere 1.6 percent of global foreign direct investment (USD 10.1 billion), is home to six of the ten countries judged as having the most difficult environment for starting a business, and efforts by African firms to enter the global market place remain hobbled, among others by inadequate roads, inefficient ports and power shortages," the World Bank said.
ADI 2006 is a document that provides the most detailed collection of data on Africa. It contains about 450 macroeconomic, sectoral, and social indicators, covering 53 African countries.
Through the ADI 2006, the World Bank called for the lifting of burdensome rules of origin through reforms in the U.S. African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) and the EU's Everything But Arms (EBA) initiative, but also for reforms "behind the border" (that is, within African countries) to promote intra-African trade.
ADI 2006 noted that inequality limits the benefits of growth to the poor and while recommending a sharpened focus on economic growth to help African countries to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and bridge the dramatic divide between rural and urban populations, it reiterated the World Bank's call for this to be done through a "shared growth" strategy that builds on investments that target the poor and are geared at helping them connect to the modern economy, contribute to, participate in and benefit from the region's wealth.
The African Development Indicator 2006 was launched at the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).
Some facts about Sub-Sahara Africa
1. The country with the highest GNI per capita for 2004 is Seychelles (US$8,190). It is followed by Mauritius (US$4,640), Botswana (US$4,360), Gabon (US$4,080), and South Africa (US$3,630).
2.The biggest economy is South Africa, with a real GDP of US$152.3 billion (2004). The second largest economy, Nigeria, has a GDP of US$51.7 billion.
3.The smallest economy reported on in the ADI is Sao Tome and Principe, with a real GDP of US$54 million (2004).
4.The country with the largest agriculture value added is Central African Republic (57.0 percent of GDP) while the least is Botswana at 2.3 percent of GDP (2004) .
5.The country with the largest population is Nigeria, with 128.7 million people. It is followed by Ethiopia, with 70.0 million people, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, with 55.9 million people.
6.The country with the largest population growth rate is Eritrea, 4.3 percent (2004). South Africa has the least growth: -0.7 percent.
7.The country with the most urbanized population is Djibouti, at 84 percent.
8.The country with the least urbanized population is Burundi, at 10 percent.
9.The country with the highest percentage of people above 65 years is the Mauritius, at 7 percent (2004).
10.The countries with the lowest percentage people above 65 years are Angola, Eritrea, Liberia, Niger, and Uganda, with 2 percent (2004).
Source: World Bank publication: 50 interesting things about Sub-Saharan Africa