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African economy 2018: cautiously positive

African Economic Outlook 2018 report
African Economic Outlook 2018 report rfi/anne-marie bissada

The outlook for the economy across Africa this year is looking cautiously positive, according to this year’s African Economic Outlook 2018.


One of the key points to come from this year’s study is that, overall, the African economy is still growing. Abebe Shimeles, the acting Director and Manager of Development Research Division at the African Development Bank, underlined that growth remains in the double digits, which is good. However, Africa is still lagging behind the others. He pointed to Asia and the Latin Americas for examples.

While Africa has the same Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as the others, it is lacking in infrastructure.

“Poor infrastructure has led to inequality” he added; a theme throughout this year’s report. And it’s this lack of infrastructure that is holding back the continent’s full economic potential.

The report contains nine policy recommendations mostly dealing with infrastructure, including the recommendation that countries should attract more private funding to infrastructure and that they should maintain prudent macroeconomic policies

Ethiopia’s Arkebe Oqubay, a minister and advisor to Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said Addis Ababa has been working in three areas to develop its infrastructure:

  • The new Addis Ababa to Djibouti rail link that runs on electricity to protect the environment
  • A focus on new energy solutions such as solar
  • Development of economic and industrial zones

There is also the controversial construction of the Great Renaissance Dam (GERD), the completion of which would make Ethiopia the leading power exporter in East Africa and a top renewable energy hub on the continent.

The report itself, which is normally released after the African banks’ meeting in May, was released early this year to make sure the suggestions and ideally some of the policies are put into practice.

The early release date was strongly suggested last year by one of the bank heads during the May meeting explained Celestin Monga, the Vice-President and Chief Economist of the African Development Bank.

While the economic outlook is not an item that gets much attention, this year’s researchers said they wanted it be accessible by anyone; not “just the technocrats”.

Which is why it has been translated into several languages to ensure greater readership.


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