African Economic Outlook 2018 flagship report is released

“African economies have been resilient and gaining momentum. Real output growth is estimated to have increased 3.6% in 2017 and to accelerate to 4.1% in 2018 and 2019″ says Akinwumi A. Adesina, President of the African Development Bank Group. “Overall, the recovery of growth has been faster than envisaged, especially among non-resource–intensive economies.”

The latest edition of African Economic Outlook 2018 was released yesterday, and contains a lot of excellent analysis and short- to medium-term forecasts on the evolution of key macroeconomic indicators for all 54 regional member countries.

The staff economists of African Development Bank present their analyses of African economic development during the previous year and near term, and on the state of socioeconomic challenges and progress made in each country.

According to Adesina, global institutional investors and commercial banks manage more than $100 trillion in assets and for some of that they search for high returns, some of which could support African investments. Key challenges for Africa are managing the demographics, with a fast-growing young population, by creating more jobs and reducing poverty. Policy-makers can create structural transformation and economic diversification by deeper investment in agriculture and developing agricultural value chains to spur modern manufacturing and services.

Top priority is a shift to growth that absorbs labour; another to invest in human capital, particularly in entrepreneurial skills of youth, to facilitate transition to high-productivity modern businesses. Macroeconomic policy should be prudent and aim to ensure external competitiveness, blending exchange-rate flexibility, mobilizing domestic revenues including tax, and judiciously managing demand and rationalizing public spending.

Infrastructure need soars to $130-170bn a year

The year’s theme is infrastructure. The Bank says that new research shows that Africa’s infrastructure requirements are $130–$170 billion a year, much higher than the long-accepted figure of $93bn a year. According to Adesina: “African countries do not need to solve all their infrastructure problems before they can sustain inclusive growth. They should focus on how best to use their scarce infrastructure budgets to achieve the highest economic and social returns.

“Infrastructure projects are among the most profitable investments any society can make. When productive, they contribute to and sustain a country’s economic growth. They thus provide the financial resources to do everything else.

Changes to 2018 AEO

The report is great reference material for researchers, investors, civil-society organizations, development partners and many others. The African Development Bank has made some changes, to make this key document even more useful:
1. Earlier release date – mid-January each year – so that the Bank, as a leading African institution, will be among the first to provide headline numbers on Africa’s macroeconomic performance and outlook.
2. To boost advocacy and dialogue, the 2018 AEO is being shortened to 4 chapters and 54 country notes in about 175 pages, down from more than 300 pages in previous years.
3. Regional economic outlooks for Africa’s five subregions. These self-contained, independent reports focus on priority areas of concern for each subregion and provide analysis of the economic and social landscape. They also highlight issues of pressing current interest.

The chapters of the report cover 1: Macroeconomic performance and prospects; 2: Growth, jobs and poverty in Africa; 3: Africa’s infrastructure, great potential but little impact on inclusive growth; 4: Financing Africa’s infrastructure, new strategies, mechanisms and instruments. Boxes include China’s 3 lessons for Africa, the Africa50 Infrastructure Fund, PPP dos and donts. Tables include real and per capita GDP growth 2009-2019.

Download your copy in English, French or Portuguese here

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