Ghana remains one of the robust economies in sub-Saharan Africa with a projected Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of 7.5 per cent this year.
This was against the coverage growth among non-resource-intensive countries which were projected to edge down, reflecting the effects of tropical cyclones in Mozambique and Zimbabwe, political uncertainty in Sudan, weaker agricultural exports in Kenya and fiscal consolidation in Senegal.
This was disclosed on Wednesday by Hafez Ghanem, World Bank Vice President for Africa in a teleconference across member states in sub-Saharan Africa and monitored in Accra at the office of the bank to mark the 20th Edition of Africa’s Pulse, a biannual economic update for the region.
He said the growth in Sub-Saharan Africa remained slow through 2019, hampered by persistent uncertainty in the global economy and the slow pace of domestic reforms, while overall growth was projected to rise to 2.6 per cent from 2.5 per cent, which was 0.2 percentage points lower than the forecast in April.
Mr Ghanem said global uncertainty was taking a toll on growth well beyond Africa, and real GDP growth was also expected to slow significantly in other emerging and developing regions saying, “the Middle East and North Africa, Latin America and Caribbean, and South Asia regions are expected to see even larger downwards revisions in their growth forecasts than in Sub-Saharan Africa for 2019.”
He said beyond Sub-Saharan Africa’s regional averages, the picture was mixed because the recovery in Nigeria, South Africa and Angola, the region’s three largest economies had remained weak and was weighing on the region’s prospects, indicating that in Nigeria, the growth in the non-oil sector had been sluggish, and in Angola, the oil sector remained weak, while South Africa’s low investment sentiment was weighing on her economic activity.
Mr Ghanem said in Central African Economic and Monetary Community countries, which were also resource intensive, activity was expected to expend at a modest pace, supported by rising oil production, adding that growth among metals exporters was expected to be moderate, “as mining production slows and metal prices fall.”
“According to a publication by the World Bank under the topic ‘Accelerating Poverty Reduction and Empowering Women’ under the same 20th edition report, it was estimated that over 416 million lived below USD 1.90 per day in 2015,” he said, adding that in the absence of significant efforts to create economic opportunities and reduce risk for poor people, “extreme poverty will become almost exclusively an African phenomenon by 2030.”
Mr Ghanem said empowering women would help boost growth, since African policy makers faced an important choice between business as usual and taking deliberate steps towards a more inclusive economy, and stated that “after several years of slower than expected growth, closing the opportunity gap for women by removing barriers to their economic participation is the best way forward.”
He said the best way to deal with the situation was to provide more and better public finance to improve the lives of the most vulnerable, adding that “a critical piece will be addressing gender gaps in health, education, empowerment and jobs.”
Mr Ghanem said sub-Saharan Africa was the only region in the world that could boast that women were more likely to be entrepreneurs than men, especially, to a large share of agriculture labour across the continent.
He said the report identified six policy pathways for women economic empowerment: building their skills beyond traditional training, alleviating women’s financial constraints through innovative solutions that relieve the collateral problem and improve their access to the financial sectors, helping than to secure land rights and addressing social norms that constrain women’s opportunities, among others.
BY LAWRENCE MARKWEI