‘Africa’s economy to grow 5,8pc’

Africa’s economy grew 5 percent last year, while South Africa’s growth was 4.9 percent, its highest rate since 1984. Reuters reports that growth in South Africa is likely to have accelerated to 4.2 percent in the first quarter, with domestic demand remaining strong and manufacturing and mining output recovering. Africa’s biggest economy expanded by just 3.3 percent in the final quarter of 2005. Releasing the African Economic Outlook report for 2005/06 on Thursday, Goldstein said African oil-exporting countries were outpacing other countries by a substantial margin. “Overall, the outlook for much of Africa continues to be more favourable than it has been for many years. “Continued global expansion means sustained demand and higher prices for African oil and other industrial raw materials. “An increase in official development aid and improving macroeconomic stability have also contributed to Africa’s positive economic outlook,” Goldstein said. However, he pointed out that conflicts and natural disasters in countries such as Sudan, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia and Nigeria continued to dampen overall economic growth on the continent. Africa’s business and political elite meet this week to find ways of creating jobs and ending poverty. Economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa has climbed above 5 percent a year from barely 3 percent in 2000, but grinding poverty, disease and hunger persist and jobs are still scarce. Under the title Going for Growth, the Africa summit of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Cape Town from May 31 to June 2 will also discuss a swathe of other issues from stumbling world trade talks to commodity prices, energy security, roads, HIV/Aids and bird flu, even sport. “For three years in a row Africa’s economy has grown above 5 percent, but this has been patchy and uneven with some states growing faster than others,” said WEF Africa director Haiko Alfeld. “Five percent growth is not fast enough to create jobs and end poverty ‘ a lot more work still has to be done. We have to see what business can do to help unlock world trade talks.” The OECD report noted that democracy had started to take root in a number of African countries in the past decade and that there were fewer conflicts. However, many countries were still riddled with corruption, which was hindering private sector development. Arnold Millard of construction group Murray & Roberts was less optimistic about investing in Africa: “There are still enormous problems for the private sector in investing in some countries.” The report highlighted that African inflation remained at historical lows despite increasing oil prices, and trade balances had improved for countries exporting oil and metal ores. ‘ wnafrica

June 2006
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