See Wall Street Journal Online for May 13, 2012:
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia —Countries in sub-Saharan Africa are expected to register economic growth of at least 5.5% in 2012, compared with 5% last year, driven by new resource exploitation and recovery from drought, the International Monetary Fund said Monday.
In a report, the IMF said that the region’s continued strong performance has been propelled by favorable international commodity prices and increased export diversification toward emerging Asian markets, but it warned that “clear downside risks” remain due to continued global uncertainties.
“Natural resource exports contribute importantly to…budgetary revenues in a large number of sub-Saharan African economies, and demand for these products remains reasonably robust, most notably for oil,” the lender stated. The 44-nation region includes seven oil exporters, defined as countries where net oil exports make up 30% or more of total exports.
But the rate of growth in South Africa and Nigeria, the region’s two largest economies, is expected to slow. In South Africa, growth is set to be held back to less than 3% due to weaker exports to developed markets. In Nigeria, Africa’s largest oil producer, growth is expected to remain largely static at around 7% despite fiscal consolidation.
The IMF also said that growth in middle income economies is expected to remain static or lower than 2011, as these nations tend to track more closely the global economic slowdown. Eleven of the nations included in the survey are defined as middle income, including Botswana, Namibia, Ghana, Senegal, and Zambia.
Countries in East Africa and the Horn of Africa are recovering from the worst drought in 60 years which hit the region late 2010 and early 2011, hurting their agriculture and threatening millions of livelihoods, according to aid agencies. Drought also hit in the Sahel region in West Africa.
Ivory Coast, West Africa’s second-largest economy after Nigeria, was also hit by post-election civil conflict leading to a 5% reduction in its gross domestic product last year, IMF said.
Countries that rely significantly on exports of non-renewable natural resources have grown faster than economies less well-endowed with resources, but have also experienced significantly higher volatility in exports, revenue, and GDP growth, the IMF said.
Countries in sub-Saharan Africa export metals such as copper, cobalt, tin, gold, diamonds and aluminium, as well as crude oil and agricultural commodities like coffee, cotton, tea and cereals.