• Growth in Sub-Saharan Africa slowed markedly in 2016 to 1.5%, and is projected to recover moderately in 2017 this year to 2.6%. Growth will continue to strengthen in 2018, helped by improvements in commodity prices and domestic conditions. However, the recovery remains fragile with most of the uplift coming from Africa’s three largest economies – Angola, Nigeria and South Africa – as they rebound from a sharp slowdown in 2016.

    The robust growth achieved in West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) countries is continuing, supported by infrastructure investment. In East Africa, the drought that reduced agricultural production at the end of 2016 has continued into 2017, and is affecting activity in some countries, notably Kenya. Meanwhile, a steady, but more moderate growth is continuing in other countries, supported by private consumption (Comoros), infrastructure investment (Madagascar, Mauritius), and tourism (Cabo Verde, Seychelles, Mauritius).

    Investment levels will recover only gradually, reflecting tight foreign exchange liquidity conditions in major oil exporters. Fiscal consolidation will slow the pace of recovery in metal exporters. Growth is expected to remain generally solid among non-resource intensive countries, supported by domestic demand. With rising debt levels and an environment of tighter and more volatile financial conditions, many African countries face the challenge of undertaking their much-needed development spending without jeopardizing their hard-won debt sustainability.

    Following a decline of 1.1% in 2016, per capita gross domestic product (GDP) will be unchanged in 2017. In Angola, Nigeria, and South Africa, the weak uptick in growth implies that their GDP in per capita terms will continue to contract over the forecast horizon. With high persistent poverty rates, the region is faced with the urgent need to regain the momentum on growth in Sub-Saharan Africa and to make this growth more inclusive. This will require deep reforms to improve institutions for private sector growth, develop local capital markets, enhance efficiency of utilities, improve the quantity and quality of public infrastructure, and strengthen domestic resource mobilization, so as to facilitate structural transformation.

    Key downside risks to the outlook for the region include, externally, stronger-than expected tightening of global financing conditions and rising protectionist sentiment, and domestically; slippage on reforms, increasing security threats, and political uncertainty ahead of elections in some countries.

    Last Updated: Apr 01, 2017

  • 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.
    • 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, 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: Apr 01, 2017

  • As of March 2017, the Bank approved $5.9 billion for the region for 83 IBRD/IDA projects this fiscal year 17/18, including $1.2 billion in IBRD loans and $4.7 billion in IDA commitments, of which $975 million was from the IDA Scale-up Facility. 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 good quality education. The Bank also made important contributions to knowledge this fiscal year.

    A few highlights of our development results:

    • Improving infrastructure to facilitate transport and trade: The Democratic Republic of Congo Pro-Routes Project has financed the rehabilitation of over 1,674 kilometers of priority roads, helping to reconnect towns and communities that were isolated for over 20 years. The project has significantly reduced travel time, decreased transport costs, and stimulated economic recovery. Farmers have been able to return to the field, convinced that their products can now reach consumers and markets with the reopening and maintenance of these roads.
    • 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 the 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 which is leading to the issuance of digitized land titles for small land holders. 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 to improve 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 14,000 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 35,000 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 thanks to 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: Apr 01, 2017

  • The World Bank Group leverages partnerships, knowledge, and financing instruments to further its twin goals of ending poverty and promoting shared prosperity. In collaboration with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the European Union, the Solutions Alliance and the African Union Commission (AUC), the World Bank is supporting development approaches to forced displacement. World Bank programs are ongoing in the Great Lakes and the Horn of Africa, and the International Development Association (IDA) 18 refugee window is expected to help broaden this partnership platform.

    Current collaboration 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) is supporting hydro and geothermal energy generation and transmission. The Bank recently signed a memorandum of understanding with the China National Energy Administration and are determining priority countries and activities for implementation across Africa. Together with many of the aforementioned partners (WHO, JICA, Global Fund, AfDB, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and AUC) the Bank is supporting Universal Health Coverage in Africa.

    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 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.

    The Bank will develop and deepen its partnership with the United States’ Millennium Challenge Corporation and with the broader group of Arab Development Agencies who invest the bulk of their support in Africa.

    Last Updated: Apr 01, 2017




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In Depth


Africa's Pulse, No. 15, April 2017

Economic growth in Sub-Saharan Africa is projected to recover to 2.6 percent in 2017, following a marked deceleration in 2016.


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.


World Bank Africa Multimedia

Watch, listen and click through the latest videos, podcasts and slideshows highlighting the World Bank’s work in Sub-Saharan Africa.


Doing Business 2017

The Doing Business project provides objective measures of business regulations and their enforcement across 190 economies and selected ...

Additional Resources

Regional Contacts

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For more information about the World Bank's work in Africa, please contact us.
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