• Economic growth in Sub-Saharan Africa is recovering moderately, following a sharp slowdown over the course of the last two years. Estimated to have strengthened from 1.3% in 2016 to 2.4% in 2017, Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth in the region is mainly led by the continent’s largest economies: Nigeria, South Africa, and Angola. Nigeria and South Africa have exited recession; however, their pace of recovery remains sluggish.

    Elsewhere, an uptick in mining output—along with a recovery in the agricultural sector—boosted economic activity for metal exporters. And GDP growth was stable in non-resource intensive countries, supported by domestic demand.

    Improving global conditions, including high commodity prices, curtailed current account deficits. Capital inflows rose in 2017, helping to finance current account deficits and cushion foreign reserves. Sovereign bond issuance rebounded in 2017, with Nigeria, Senegal, and Côte d’Ivoire selling bonds on the international capital markets, indicating improving global sentiment towards emerging and frontier markets like them.

    Headline inflation slowed across the region in 2017 amid stable exchange rates, and amid slowing food price inflation due to higher food production. Fiscal deficits slightly narrowed, but continued to be high, as fiscal adjustment measures remained partial at best.

    Across the region, additional efforts are needed to address revenue shortfalls and spending.

    • Looking ahead, Sub-Saharan Africa is projected to see a steady pickup in activity, with growth rising to 3.2% in 2018 and 3.5% in 2019 as commodity prices stabilize and domestic demand gradually gains ground, helped by slowing inflation and monetary policy easing.
    • That said, growth prospects will remain weak in the Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC) countries—Gabon, Cameroon, the Central African Republic (CAR), Chad, the Republic of the Congo, and Equatorial Guinea—as they struggle to adjust to low oil prices amid depressed revenues and rising debt levels.
    • The economic expansion in West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) countries—Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d'Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger, Senegal, and Togo—is expected to proceed at a strong pace on the back of robust public investment, although growth is projected to soften in Côte d’Ivoire due to low cocoa prices.
    • Among East Africa Community (EAC) countries, Ethiopia is likely to remain the fastest growing economy, supported by continuing infrastructure investment. Growth is projected to recover in Kenya, as inflation eases, but to slow in Tanzania with moderation in investment growth.

    The outlook for the region remains challenging, with economic growth remaining well below the pre-crisis average. The moderate pace of growth will translate into only slow gains in per capita income, which declined in 2016/17, and will be far from sufficient to promote shared prosperity or accelerate poverty reduction. 

    Last Updated: Oct 11, 2017

  • The World Bank Group strategy for Africa is built on looking for opportunities for growth and poverty reduction, mainly to support structural transformation, economic diversification, and inclusion within the new development finance framework.

    The Africa region is made up of a combination of low, lower-middle, upper-middle, and high income countries. Of these, 18 countries are fragile and conflict-affected states, such as the Central African Republic. Africa also has 13 small (nation) states, characterized by a small population, limited human capital, and a confined land area, such as Guinea Bissau.

    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.
    • 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 enhance productivity.
    • Urbanization: Integrated urban planning is at the core of our work in Africa, addressing water, sanitation, transport, housing, power and governance, all of them 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 that 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. [link to centers of excellence?]
    • 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 is underway on many issues: structural transformation, macroeconomic vulnerabilities, fragility and poverty, improving governance, and on more specific areas, such as the management of drylands, addressing the challenges in the Sahel, improving development outcomes in the Horn of Africa, and tapping the opportunities in land reform, urbanization, and demography.

    Last Updated: Oct 11, 2017

  • As of September 2017, the Bank has had an active portfolio of over 600 projects in Africa totaling $65 billion. Key focus areas included raising agricultural productivity, increasing access to affordable and reliable energy, building resilience to climate change, strengthening fragile and conflict-afflicted states, and promoting high quality education. The Bank also made important contributions to knowledge this fiscal year.

    A few highlights of our development results:

    • Developing technologies to prevent and mitigate climate-related disasters: The Community Mapping for Flood Resilience and Development Project in Tanzania piloted the use of drones to produce digital maps. These maps are used to assess flood-prone areas of Dar es Salaam, mitigate the impact of flooding, and identify upgrades to informal settlements. Drones are also being used for land tenure mapping, leading to the issuance of digitized land titles for small landholders. Tanzania completed a digital map of the entire island of Zanzibar, breaking a record for the largest area in the world mapped entirely with drones.
    • Boosting agricultural productivity: Agriculture accounts for 65% of employment in Africa. At a time when some countries are facing challenges from the decline in commodity prices, developing this sector can help to diversify economies. To improve the lives of 2 million of the estimated 50 million pastoralists in the region, the $248 million Regional Sahel Pastoralism Support Project aims specifically to improve access to essential productive assets, services, and markets in six countries—Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, and Senegal—and the local response to pastoral crises and emergencies. Most of the beneficiaries of the six-year project will be women and youth.
    • Fostering women’s and youth’s economic empowerment: The Women’s Entrepreneurship Development Project (WEDP) in Ethiopia provides access to finance and business development services to women entrepreneurs in Ethiopia’s missing middle””. Over 19,000 women entrepreneurs have registered for the program, and the WEDP model is multiplying. Donors and local financial institutions are using their own funds to roll out WEDP further and sustainably. In the Central African Republic, the LONDO Project, an innovative cash-for-work project, is providing short-term employment to over 23,000 workers. These temporary jobs aim to reduce the vulnerability and contribute to stability in this post-conflict country.
    • Supporting and expanding private sector investment in power: The International Finance Corporation or IFC, the private sector arm of the World Bank Group, has financed 268.5MW of installed capacity over five projects in 8 years in Senegal, which are providing 40-50% of baseload power in the country. IFC has helped Kenya reach a million residential customers in generation and 18 million in distribution. In Côte d’Ivoire, expanded projects are delivering clean and reliable power to an estimated 5.75 million residential customers and in Nigeria, IFC has mobilized investment across the energy value chain in support of government reforms.
    • Adapting to climate change and building climate resilience: The World Bank Board has approved 11 projects supporting climate-smart agriculture in Africa, totaling $1.4 billion of IDA, improving 725,000 hectares of land and the livelihoods of more than 1.6 million farmers. For example, in Niger, a new project will directly benefit around 500,000 farmers and agro-pastoralists in 44 communes with the use of drought-tolerant seeds, irrigation, agroforestry, and conservation agriculture techniques, the reclamation of degraded land, promotion of livestock and other value chains, and improving smallholders’ access to markets.
    • Partnering with the United Nations to forward regional initiatives in the Great Lakes, the Sahel, and the Horn of Africa: The Bank is addressing the pressing issue of displacement in the Great Lakes and the Horn of Africa, with two operations to help countries manage ongoing crises through support for forcibly displaced people and their host communities. These cross-border efforts address the underlying causes of fragility.

    Last Updated: Oct 11, 2017

  • 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), 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 Alliance for the Sahel, 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 in 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: Oct 11, 2017




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In Depth

Oct 11, 2017

Africa's Pulse, No. 16, October 2017

Africa needs to improve the quality of its education and teach basic skills to adults, too, says Africa’s Pulse.

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 ...

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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