Good news, bad news
THE GOOD NEWS IS that real economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa is currently forecast at 3,3% for 2009. That is, at any rate, the current prediction of the International Monetary Fund. That projection is much higher than growth rates now indicate for most of the rest of the world.
The bad news – part of it, anyway – is that in April 2008 the IMF growth forecast for the region this year was 6,3%. So the original estimate has effectively halved.
Further, poverty levels overall are greater in the region than in any other part of the world. The adverse impact of a sharp decline in economic growth in Africa generally is therefore necessarily greater than the effect in any other continent or sub-continent.
The second crucial problem is that it’s necessarily impossible to say sub-Saharan Africa has yet hit the bottom. Things might patently still become a lot worse.
Antoinette Monsio Sayeh, African department director at the IMF, says: “The current global financial crisis will have a significant impact on sub-Saharan Africa this year. Although the region is positioned to record positive rates of growth this represents a sharp slowdown from recent years.”
She adds: “As the global crisis continues to unfold, the uncertainty surrounding the outlook is unusually large and risks remain mainly on the downside.
Financial flows to Africa could slow further or even reverse, putting severe pressures on the balance of payments in many countries.”