The African Development Bank (AfDB) projects Africa’s economy would grow at 3.9 per cent in 2020.
This was contained in its 2020 Africa Economic Outlook launched in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire. The bank stated that: “Africa’s economic growth remained stable in 2019 at 3.4 per cent and is on course to pick up to 3.9 per cent in 2020 and 4.1 per cent in 2021”,
“The slower than expected growth is partly due to the moderate expansion of the continent’s “big five” — Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria, and South Africa – whose joint growth was an average rate of 3.1 per cent compared with the average of 4.0 per cent for the rest of the continent.”
Former Liberian President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf who attended the launch of the outlook was quoted as commending the bank for upholding the confidence of the people of the continent, “… because we trust you. As simple as that, we trust you to share our vision. We trust you to understand our limitations.”
The Outlook indicated that in 2019, for the first time in a decade, investment expenditure, rather than consumption, accounted for over 50 per cent of GDP growth.
This shift can help sustain and potentially accelerate future growth in Africa, increase the continent’s current and future productive base while improving the productivity of the workforce.
Overall, the forecast described the continent’s growth fundamentals as improved, driven by a gradual shift toward investments and net exports, and away from private consumption.
East Africa maintained its lead as the continent’s fastest-growing region, with average growth estimated at 5.0 per cent in 2019; North Africa was the second-fastest, at 4.1 per cent, while West Africa’s growth rose to 3.7 per cent in 2019, up from 3.4 per cent the year before.
Central Africa grew at 3.2 per cent in 2019, up from 2.7 per cent in 2018, while Southern Africa’s growth slowed considerably over the same period, from 1.2 per cent to 0.7 per cent, dragged down by the devastating cyclones Idai and Kenneth.
Urgent call to address Africa’s education, skills mismatch The 2020 AEO, themed Developing Africa’s workforce for the future, called for swift action to address human capital development in African countries, where the quantity and quality of human capital are much lower than in other regions of the world.
The report also noted the urgent need for capacity building and offers several policy recommendations, which include that states invest more in education and infrastructure to reap the highest returns in long-term GDP growth.
Developing a demand-driven productive workforce to meet industry needs, is another essential requirement.
To keep the current level of unemployment constant, Africa needs to create 12 million jobs every year, according to the report.
With rapid technological change expected to disrupt labour markets further, it is urgent that countries address fundamental bottlenecks to creating human capital.