Africa’s economic growth declined in 2015, as did the global economy at large, but despite all the negative publicity focused on the slowing economy, the Southern African region actually grew its economy during the year, according to the U.N. Economic Commission for Africa Report 2016.
Africa’s economy declined overall from 3.9 percent in 2014 to 3.7 percent in 2015. Only Southern Africa and North Africa recorded positive growth over 2014.
Growth in North Africa (excluding Libya) accelerated from 2.8 percent in 2014 to 3.6 percent in 2015, with the help of improved political and economic stability, and increased business confidence, especially in Egypt and Tunisia, Pulse reported.
Mauritania had the steadiest and fastest growth in the region, supported by sound macroeconomic and structural policies, the U.N. reported. Mining and construction, shored up by private investment and consumption, saw exceptionally high investment of about 45 percent of GDP. Large infrastructure projects in Egypt such as the Suez Canal expansion got a boost from external aid and investment. Algeria’s oil production picked up for the first time in eight years.
Southern Africa’s growth increased from 2.4 percent in 2014 to 2.5 percent in 2015. Mozambique and Zambia recorded the highest growth in the region, driven by large infrastructure projects and foreign investment in mining. Angola showed strong GDP growth despite low oil prices as the government invested in strategic non-oil sectors such as electricity, construction and technology. Economic performance was subdued in the subregion’s largest economy, South Africa, which was hit by electricity shortages, weak export demand, and low prices for key raw materials.
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East Africa’s growth rate declined from 7 percent in 2014 to 6.2 percent in 2015. Overall, that 6.2 percent growth was the highest for all African regions. Ethiopia’s net exports suffered from low commodity prices and an increase in imports of capital goods and construction-related services, according to the U.N. In DRC, mining and the growing service sector are driving growth, but political uncertainties weigh on subregional growth. In Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania, exports infrastructure development and private consumption are driving growth.
Growth in West Africa slowed from 5.7 percent in 2014 to 4.4 percent in 2015. In Côte d’Ivoire, continued public infrastructure investment and robust performance in services and agriculture supported growth. Guinea and Liberia returned to positive growth following the Ebola outbreak. The slowdown is attributed mainly to Nigeria, hit by lower oil prices, security issues in the war against Boko Haram and uncertainty around the March 2015 elections. Lower cocoa production and energy challenges slowed growth in Ghana.
In Central Africa, overall growth fell from 3.5 percent in 2014 to 3.4 percent in 2015, despite improved mining performance. Most countries maintained relatively high growth, but security concerns in the Central African Republic (CAR) and lower oil production in Equatorial Guinea contributed to a decline in subregional GDP, Pulse reported.