• Economic growth in Sub-Saharan Africa continues to recover steadily and is forecasted to pick up to 3.1% in 2018 and to firm to an average of 3.6% in 2019–20. This moderate growth upswing nonetheless remains uneven, with considerable variation across countries.

    Among Sub-Saharan Africa’s largest economies, a slower than previously anticipated recovery in the oil sector and continued challenges in the non-oil industrial sectors will weigh on activity in Nigeria. The growth forecasts for Angola and South Africa have been revised slightly upward, on the expectation that slowing inflation and improving sentiment would help sustain the ongoing recovery in domestic demand, especially in investment. However, although political transitions have opened opportunities for reforms in Angola and South Africa, implementation of these reforms is likely to be gradual and suggests a cautious growth outlook for these countries.

    For oil exporters in the Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC), recovery will be slower than previously expected as they continue to adjust to high debt levels and low external buffers.

    Among non-resource intensive countries, activity in 2018 and 2019–20 is expected to remain robust. Solid growth, supported by infrastructure investment, will continue in the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU), led by Côte d’Ivoire and Senegal.  Growth prospects have improved in most of East Africa, owing to improving agriculture sector growth following droughts and a rebound in private sector credit growth.  Growth in Ethiopia will remain the highest in the region, as government-led infrastructure investment continues.

    However, many challenges remain. Public debt levels are rising, which might jeopardize debt sustainability in some countries; the availability of good jobs has not kept pace with the number of entrants in the labor force; and poverty is widespread. While the region’s per capita gross domestic product (GDP) growth will turn positive in 2018, it will remain insufficient to reduce poverty significantly.Total poverty headcount at the international poverty line ($1.90/day in 2011 PPP) is projected to decline only marginally.

    Last Updated: May 14, 2018

  • The World Bank Group 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, lower-middle, upper-middle, and high-income countries. 18 countries are fragile and conflict-affected States. Africa also has 13 small states, characterized by a small population, limited human capital, and a confined land area.

    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. Thanks to the concerted efforts of the WBG, most of the energy generation conducted in Africa is handled by the private sector, and in a clean way. Through the maximizing finance for development (MFD) approach, we have mobilized over $2 billion in private investment in Kenya and nearly a billion in Cameroon so far.

    Climate Change: 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: Regional integration in Africa remains a critical emphasis of our strategy to improve connectivity, leverage economies of scale, and get collective action by countries to address shared challenges.  The World Bank Group is stepping up its support for regional integration (current commitment of $10 billion) by adding another $7-8 billion in new financial commitments during IDA18.

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

    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 science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) across the region.

    Knowledge: 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 14, 2018

  • As of April 2018, the Bank had an active portfolio in Africa of 605 projects totaling $68.1 billion.  Key focus areas include raising agricultural productivity, increasing access to affordable and reliable energy, building resilience to climate change, promoting regional integration, and boosting human capital. The Bank also made important contributions to knowledge this fiscal year.

    A few highlights of our development results:

    Harnessing technological developments to improve access to clean and reliable energy

    At only 37%, energy access in Africa lags behind other regions, placing an unsustainable drag on growth. The Bank is supporting operations in Africa to increase access through grid extension and expansion of the transmission network, innovative off-grid electrification solutions, expansions of renewable generation capacity, development of regional power pools and improvement of service efficiency.  In addition, the Bank is supporting the development and adoption of new technologies such as solar storage solutions, smart meters, mobile utility payments, satellite mapping and imaging, high-voltage DC transmission, and solar home systems and mini-grids.

    The World Bank Group renewable energy program Scaling Solar is yielding strong results notably making privately funded grid-connected solar projects operational within two years with competitive tariffs. In Zambia, auctions have resulted in some of the lowest tariffs in Africa. Furthermore, several other Sub-Saharan African countries (Ethiopia, Madagascar, and Senegal) have replicated Scaling Solar’s standard processes and documents.

    Fostering women’s and youth’s economic empowerment

    The Girls’ Education and Women’s Empowerment and Livelihood Program (GEWEL) in Zambia

    targets girls and women at two critical phases, supporting 14,000 adolescent girls to attend secondary school and 75,000 working-age women to gain access to grants, trainings and mentoring to increase livelihood productivity. The program adopts a “cash-plus”, productive inclusion model of social protection with linkages across government and private sector to achieve multi-dimensional outcomes promoting increased earnings, gains in education and health, women’s rights, birth and national registration, and financial inclusion. This coordinated approach supports the client’s goal to build a national flagship empowerment program to help combat poverty.

    Scaling up social protection and safety nets

    The Social Safety Nets Project (SSNP) in Sierra Leone is providing regular income support to extremely poor households across the country. The project is currently supporting 30,000+ households with quarterly payments and workshops on health, nutrition, and basic financial literacy. By harnessing digital technology and mobile phones, the program is able to collect quality data in the field, conduct more efficient targeting and enrollment, increase dynamic inclusion of the registry, deliver timely payments with electronic verification, record grievances, and monitor activities. The approach has been adopted by the government and replicated in other interventions, including during Ebola crisis and the recent mudslides.

    Adapting to climate change and building climate resilience

    Africa is the lowest carbon emitter and yet is more vulnerable to climate change than other regions. Of the top 10 most vulnerable countries to climate change impact, nine are in Africa. The Africa Climate Business Plan (ACBP) set out a work program to leverage financing in support of climate change adaptation. To date, there are 146 IDA/IBRD projects worth $14 billion contributing to ACBP implementation. In 2017, IFC committed 20 projects with a climate component, worth almost $1 billion.

    Investing in the early years

    Of the 250 million children under the age of five in Africa, one-third are stunted and less than one-quarter are enrolled in preschool. Early years investments are key to unlocking a country’s human capital potential and driving economic growth and social development. Children who are well nourished, nurtured and protected from stress carry advantages with them that last a lifetime.  The World Bank is employing a multisectoral approach to reduce stunting, expand access to early learning and harness social protection opportunities to reach the most vulnerable.  In Rwanda, the Bank is supporting a multifaceted approach to address chronic malnutrition through health and nutrition interventions, high quality child feeding and hygiene practices, enhanced access to food through cash transfers and support for improvements in household food security and dietary diversity through biofortification, labor saving technologies, and promotion of micro-nutrient enriched foods.

    Modernizing Public Transportation

    The World Bank is supporting the city of Dakar in the construction of an 18.3 kilometer fully segregated Bus Rapid Transit system. Approved in 2017 by the Board, the $300 million pilot project is projected to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 1.5Mt CO2eq. It has the potential for replication and scaling up across Africa cities. Clean, modern, and affordable transport is critical to connecting citizens to jobs in Africa’s burgeoning capitals

    Expanding research and data

    The Bank also made important contributions to knowledge this fiscal year. The World Bank recently launched a new knowledge platform, the Think Africa Partnership. This multi-donor program will promote economic transformation by supporting knowledge-driven policy making. The program includes a new network of Presidential economic advisors and chief economists across the region, and support to the implementation of the G20 Compact with Africa. The program is also focused on better linkages between African scholarship and policy makers on issues directly related to economic transformation, in order to boost policy impact and enhance the effectiveness of development finance.

    Last Updated: May 14, 2018

  • The World Bank Group leverages partnerships, knowledge, and financing instruments to further its twin goals of ending poverty and promoting shared prosperity.

    Improved access to sustainable energy, including in rural areas, is a key aim of partnership with the French Development Agency (AFD), Islamic Development Bank (ISDB), Arab Coordination Group, Japan International Coordination Agency (JICA), African Development Bank (AfDB) and European Investment Bank (EIB) and the China National Energy Administration Energy.  Collaboration with the AfDB, ISDB, AFD, AUC and JICA is supporting the efforts of African countries to increased agricultural productivity and expand agribusiness. 

    Together with the World Health Organization (WHO), JICA, Global Fund, AfDB, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the African Union Commission (AUC), the World Bank is supporting Universal Health Coverage in Africa.  Collaboration with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the European Union (EU), and the AUC underpins World Bank programs implementing a development approach to forced displacement the Great Lakes and the Horn of Africa.  The World Bank is a collaborating agency, along with the AfDB and UNDP, in the Sahel Alliance, an initiative launched by France, Germany and the EU.

    Deepened and accelerated support for Africa requires engagement with non-conventional development partners.  The Africa Region has a strong partnership with China across several sectors and is exploring collaboration with India in skills and information and communications technology (ICT). 

    The Africa Region also leverages the combined strength of the entire World Bank Group by working closely with the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) in energy, agribusiness, water, transport and other priority areas.

    Last Updated: May 14, 2018




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In Depth

Apr 19, 2018

Africa's Pulse, No. 17, April 2018

A new analysis of African economies shows the region’s growth is projected to reach 3.1% in 2018, and average 3.6% in 2019–20.

Oct 30, 2017

Monitoring Progress in Policy

IDA, the World Bank’s fund for the poorest, contributes nearly 50% of its funds to 39 African countries.

Oct 30, 2017

International Development Association (IDA) in Africa

IDA, the World Bank’s fund for the poorest, contributes nearly 50% of its funds to 39 African countries.

Oct 31, 2017

Doing Business 2018

The Doing Business project provides objective measures of business regulations and their enforcement across 190 economies and selected cities and the subnational and regional levels.

Additional Resources

Regional Contacts

The World Bank
1818 H Street, NW
Washington, DC 20433
(202) 473-1000
For more information about the World Bank's work in Africa, please contact us.
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