PRESIDENT of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Akinwumi Adesina, is seeking bold economic reforms from African nations as he projected Africa’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth at about four per cent in 2023 and 2024.
Adesina, speaking in Abidjan, Cote D’Ivoire on Thursday January 19 at the virtual inauguration of the maiden edition of the 2023 Africa Macroeconomic Performance and Outlook, urged that the reforms should focus on driving government-enabled private sector industrialisation in key sectors to enable mitigation on global economic uncertainties.
His projected GDP growth figure is higher than the world’s averages of 2.7 per cent and 3.2 per cent for the two years.
AfDB’s estimates showed that Africa’s average real GDP growth slowed to 3.8 per cent in 2022.
“In spite of the challenging external environment, Africa has demonstrated continued resilience, with all but one country maintaining positive growth in 2022, and with outlooks stable for 2023 and 2024,” Adesina said.
The AfDB president disclosed there were five top performing African countries that were projected to grow by more than 5.5 per cent.
He said, “The top five performing African countries before the COVID-19 pandemic are projected to grow by more than 5.5 per cent and could reclaim their position among the world’s top 10 fastest growing economies in 2023 to 2024.”
The countries are Libya, with 12.9 per cent; Niger, with 9.6 per cent; Senegal, with 9.4 per cent; Rwanda, with 7.9 per cent; and Côte d’Ivoire, with 7.1 per cent.
He noted that the projected stability in medium-term growth in Africa largely reflected the benefits of policy support in the continent, as well as in global efforts to mitigate the impacts of external shocks and rising uncertainty, and in stable growth in Asia, one of Africa’s main trading partners.
He, however, cautioned on the optimism that should welcome the recovery and economic resilience of African economies.
Adesina stated that the 2023 edition of Africa’s Macroeconomic Performance and Outlook recognised the challenges that African economies faced in navigating the multiple global risks.
He said, “The report thus advocates for bold policy actions at the national, regional, and global scales to help African economies mitigate the compounding risks in agriculture and agribusiness, and in climate-smart and energy transition. Also, in value-chain development in natural resource sectors, especially in minerals for green development.
“In quality health care infrastructure and pharmaceutical industries. In digitalisation and e-governance.”
He said the report also presented policy options to mitigate the effects of tighter global financial conditions and to revitalise financial flows to Africa.
“Tapping into the private sector’s accumulated savings (at home and abroad) and channeling them to urgently finance infrastructure and social development will be key as the continent continues to build back better to secure a resilient, prosperous, and sustainable future for all Africans,” he noted.
A professor of economics and Director of the Centre for Sustainable Development, Columbia University, New York, USA, Jeffrey Sachs, described the report as showing the resilience and growth of African economies.
Sachs, who is also the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ Advocate for Sustainable Development Goals, asked, “If one had been asked in 2019 that, suppose that there would be a global pandemic; suppose that after that there would be a major war, sanctions regime and disruption of the world energy markets and food market; suppose that interest rates were going to rise significantly in the United States and in other key currencies, what would you expect for Africa?”
He pointed out that the report emphasised growths in Africa amid global wars, disasters and market uncertainties.
The professor saw Africa’s GDP as rising to seven per cent or more in the coming decades.
“What we are going to see in the next decade is building on resilience that we see in this report, a real acceleration of Africa sustainable development, so that Africa will be the fastest growing part of the world economy,” he said.
He further said the opportunities for Africa to maintain its growth would be the integration of its economy, strategic industrial policy, and finance.
The economist said, “If the African Union and the member states continue on this path of rapid integration, and that’s integration in policy, its integration in transboundary infrastructure, its integration in a single market, it will substantially increase Africa’s resilience and rate of growth.
“Second is what we’ve heard about strategic industrial policy. I think it is absolutely grounded by the way on what will be a massive upgrading of skills in the years ahead.
“We are going to see a flowering of higher education and advanced skills across Africa. It’s already happening, but it will be massive and it will underpin this strategic transformation of industry.”
He stressed the need for Africa to have a long-term sustainable development finance to drive growth.