Uncertainties cloud sub-Saharan economies - IMF

APA-Dakar (Senegal) By Oumar Dembele

Growth prospects in sub-Saharan Africa are "highly uncertain" because they are going through "two trajectories" subject to "headwinds inside and outside," the International Monetary Fund (IMF) warns in its April 2019 report seen on Tuesday.

“Economic recovery continues in sub-Saharan Africa, but rates and growth prospects follow two distinct trajectories. The overall growth rate is expected to rise from 3 percent in 2018 to 3.5 percent in 2019, and stabilize at just under 4 percent in the medium term - or around 5 percent, excluding the two largest economies of the region namely South Africa and Nigeria,” the Bretton Wood institution says in a paper presented by Papa Ndiaye, Divisional Head of Regional Studies in the Africa Department of the IMF.


These global figures conceal significant disparities in growth prospects between two groups of countries, the report notes, adding that "about half of the region's countries, mostly resource-poor countries, are expected to show a growth of at least 5 percent, as well as an increase in their per capita income faster than the global average in the medium term.”


On the other hand, the report continues, the other countries, rich in natural resources for the most part, should record slower growth. 

Moreover, since these countries, including South Africa and Nigeria, are home to more than two-thirds of the region's population, it is important to lift the uncertainties related to the economic policies that hold back growth so that most people in sub-Saharan Africa enjoy a better standard of living.


According to the report, "the headwinds inside and outside" that undermine the growth prospects of this region are due to the fact that "global expansion has become slow". 

This concerns in particular the main trading partners of the region, including China and the euro zone.


Similarly, debt-related vulnerabilities "remain high" in some countries, and the high level of NPLs (non-productive loans) continues to exert significant pressure on financial systems.


However, the IMF advocates measures to be taken against the fact that the "differences" between rich and poor countries in natural resources are reflected in their growth prospects. 

These include "increasing revenue, ensuring the efficiency of public investment, consolidating public finance management, controlling fiscal risks related to public enterprises, improving management frameworks and regional economic prospects."


It would also be important, according to the IMF, to further ease exchange rates in countries that do not belong to a monetary union and to improve monetary policy and financial systems.


The Senegalese minister of Finance and Budget, Abdoulaye Daouda Diallo, chairing the meeting, stressed that the various recommendations made by the IMF, faced with these "risks" in the sub-Saharan region,justify instructions by President Macky Sall.



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