Africa is among the fastest growing regions, but it now faces significant headwinds as a result of global trends and region specific risks.  Growth has slowed, coming in at 3.0 percent in 2015, down from 4.5 percent in 2014, the weakest pace since 2009. Per capita income growth is low, weighed down by population growth. There is variation across countries, particularly between resource and non-resource rich countries, but overall, the region’s growth trend remains below pre-financial crisis levels. Slower growth deepens the challenge of reducing poverty. The incidence of extreme poverty has fallen --from 57% in 1990 to 43% in 2012-- but remains high. Overall, growth is less poverty reducing in Africa than elsewhere.

The global commodity super-cycle has come to an end, sharply lowering the price of oil, gas, metals and minerals. As a net commodities exporter, Africa is deeply affected by falling commodity prices, putting pressure on the current account and fiscal balances.

Rising violence and conflicts are fueling increased forced displacement. Emerging threats in the form of trafficking, piracy, and religious extremism are causing persistent fragility in large parts of the continent. Although Ebola has been largely contained, the risk of pandemics remains high. The lessons of the Ebola crisis highlight the importance of developing strong health systems and supporting regional disease surveillance and coordination. The impact of climate change is another risk facing the region. Africa is the lowest carbon-emitter, and yet suffers the most from the effects of climate change, through droughts, costal erosion and flooding. 

This vulnerability to shocks increases uncertainty, which in turn raises the cost of doing business in Africa and hampers productivity and growth. Addressing these sources of vulnerability and building resilience is critical to maintain solid growth rates and sustain the progress made so far in reducing poverty and achieving the development goals. To continue to make progress on its development goals and achieve structural transformation Africa must capitalize on the significant growth opportunities.

Last Updated: May 10, 2016

The WBG strategy for Africa builds on opportunities for growth and poverty reduction to support structural transformation, economic diversification and inclusion within the new development finance framework. The region is made up of a combination of low-income, lower-middle income, upper-middle income, and high income countries. 18 countries are Fragile and Conflict-affected States. Africa also has 13 small states.

The Bank is responding to this diversity by providing a wide range of instruments – both traditional and innovative - tailored to the needs of the countries.

The strategy focuses on the following priority areas:

Agricultural productivity. There is a continuing need to accelerate progress in boosting agricultural productivity and output in Africa. Supporting smallholders through investment in improved technologies, rural financial services, and better access to markets is vital.  Equally important is the push to boost agribusiness investments and improve land and water management by adopting modern irrigation practices, preventing conflicts over water resources and implementing climate-smart agriculture solutions.

Affordable and reliable energy. Increasing access to affordable, reliable, and sustainable energy is a primary objective of the Bank’s work in Africa as inadequate electricity supply remains the greatest infrastructure obstacle in Africa.

Africa’s poor are likely to be hit hardest by climate change, particularly changes in temperature and rainfall patterns.  Investing in climate change adaptation techniques and disaster risk management will remain top priority. To build climate resilience, countries will need help to both mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change and ensure food security. The Africa Climate Business Plan, presented at COP21, lays out a work program to help on both fronts.

Regional integration in Africa remains a critical piece of our strategy to improve connectivity, leverage economies of scale, and enhance productivity.

Urbanization. Integrated urban planning, addressing water, sanitation, transport, housing, power and governance, will be vital to making urbanization a true driver of productivity and income growth, and are at the core of our work in Africa.

High quality human capital. Each year in Africa and for the next decade, 11 million youth will enter the job market.  Young Africans must be equipped with the right skills and training. There is still a mismatch between what African students are learning and the skills employers are actually seeking.  To help bridge this gap, the Bank has launched initiatives to boost STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) across the region.

Knowledge is essential to our effort to improve development outcomes and make aid more effective. Country Economic Updates, produced in consultation with clients and other stakeholders, help promote substantive discussions around key policy issues.  Analytical work on structural transformation, on macroeconomic vulnerabilities, on fragility and poverty, on improving governance, but also on more specific areas such as the management of drylands, addressing the challenges of the Sahel, improving development outcomes in the Horn of Africa, and tapping the opportunities in land reform, urbanization, and demography are also underway.

Last Updated: May 10, 2016

As of March 2016, the World Bank Group approved $4.27 billion in IBRD/IDA lending for Sub Saharan Africa (including 1 guarantee) for 51 projects.  Support included $3.8 billion in IDA commitment for 44 projects and $570 million in IBRD loans for 7 operations.

A few highlights of our development results:

The Ghana Sankofa Gas Project. The largest WBG Guarantee operation ever with a $125 million IDA guarantee plus $200 million IBRD enclave loan, this project will leverage $7.9 billion private sector investments. It will have huge potential fiscal returns and growth impact and benefits to Ghana.

Regional Trade Facilitation and Competiveness Credit for Burkina Faso and Cote d’Ivoire. First multi country Development Policy Operation (DPO) approved by the Bank will lower the cost of trading by harmonizing trade policies across these countries.

The Regional Sahel Pastoralist Project. Pastoralist livelihoods are affected by severe climatic variability, trans-boundary animal diseases and recurring resource conflicts with settled farmers. This regional approach involving 6 countries is expected to benefit 2 million people.

The IDA Turnaround Regime allows Fragile and Conflict Affected States to gain resources to address the roots of fragility and support their transition to a functioning state.  Turnaround resources were recently approved for Guinea-Bissau and Madagascar.

As one of the largest financiers of higher education in the region, the Bank Group is mobilizing its knowledge and leadership behind countries to champion education. A $150-million Africa Higher-Education Centers of Excellence project is funding 19 university-based centers for advanced education in West and Central Africa. It will support regional specialization among participating universities in mathematics, science, engineering and ICT to address regional challenges.

Last Updated: May 10, 2016

The WBG leverages partnerships, knowledge and the financing instruments. The Bank works closely with the UN, and various multilateral and bilateral partners.  The Bank collaborates with African regional and sub-regional organizations, such as the African Union, EAC, ECOWAS, CEMAC and SADC, which play a critical role in a host of sub-regional and regional programs and in promoting economic integration. We have also developed strong partnerships with the private sector, think thanks, parliamentarians and African civil society.

Mobilizing partners to deepen and accelerate support for Africa is a top priority and requires closer collaboration with non-conventional development actors, including Brazil, China and India, as well as global funds, Arab funds, and private foundations.

The Africa Region also leverages the combined strength of the entire WBG by working closely with IFC and MIGA in energy, agribusiness, water, transport and other priority areas.

The Bank will develop and deepen its partnership with the US/MCC and with the broader group of Arab Development Agencies who invest the bulk of their support in Africa.

Last Updated: May 10, 2016

20 countries
have urban population growth greater than the Sub-Saharan Africa average
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