AfDB FORECAST: Rise economic growth for Africa in 2020, but how feasible with the dread of covid-19?

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In January the Africa Development Bank (AfDB) released the Africa Economic Outlook 2020 and projected that the economic growth in the continent would pick up to 3.9 percent in 2020 and 4.1 percent in 2021.

The forecast described the continent’s growth fundamentals as improved, driven by a gradual shift toward investments and net exports, and away from private consumption.

The 2020 Africa Economic Outlook tittled, “Developing Africa’s workforce for the future” observed that East Africa maintained its lead as the continent’s fastest-growing region, with average growth estimated at 5.0 percent in 2019; North Africa was the second fastest, at 4.1 percent, while West Africa’s growth rose to 3.7 percent in 2019, up from 3.4 percent the year before.

Central Africa grew at 3.2 percent in 2019, up from 2.7 percent in 2018, while Southern Africa’s growth slowed considerably over the same period, from 1.2 percent to 0.7 percent, dragged down by the devastating cyclones Idai and Kenneth.

The report suggested swift action to address human capital development in African countries, where the quantity and quality of human capital is much lower than in other regions of the world.

The report pointed out that there is urgent need to build capacity and offers several policy recommendations, which include that states invest more in education and infrastructure to reap the highest returns in long-term GDP growth.

The report challenged the continent to  build skills in information and communication technology and in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. It also stressed that the “Fourth Industrial Revolution will place increasing demands on educational systems that are producing graduates versed in these skills.”

The report suggested that Africa needs to create 12 million jobs annually to reduce the current unemployment. “With rapid technological change expected to disrupt labour markets further, it is urgent that countries address fundamental bottlenecks to creating human capital,” the report said.

However with the current state of covid-19 pandemic, it remains a challenge how African states will keep up with the report of the AfDB considering the slow and reduced productivity occasioned by the pandemic. For Nigeria, the IMF in February revised Nigeria’s 2020 GDP growth rate from 2.5 percent to 2 percent, as a result of low oil prices and limited fiscal space.

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