Africa’s outlook

The latest African Economic Outlook from the OECD Development Centre, which looks at prospects for 29 countries, reports that economic activity overall in Africa rose by nearly 5% in 2005 amid windfall gains from booming markets in oil and minerals. The African Economic Outlook sees growth accelerating to 5.8% in 2006 and easing to 5.5% in 2007. These figures hide large differences between countries, particularly in light of endowments in natural resources.
Average economic growth rates of African regions, %
Region2005(e)2006(p)2006(p)
Central Africa4.85.03.6
East Africa5.65.35.6
North Africa4.86.35.6
Southern Africa5.06.05.7
West Africa4.45.35.5
Total4.95.85.5

Note: Due to lack of data, these aggregates do not include Liberia and Somalia.
Authors' (e) estimates; (p) projection.
Source: African Economic OutlookBut they also conceal the danger of over-dependence on too few commodities. If diversification does not take place, giving rise to internal sources of growth, the future could be more fragile. The report urges governments and their partners to capitalise on any windfall gains from strong markets to reduce poverty and improve the social infrastructure. Wasting such a bounty, however, is an abiding danger, the report warns. For those economies without high-demand natural resources, the report calls for more targeted aid.Despite some success stories, transport is one area in need of particular action. A special focus in the 588-page report concludes that a redefined role for the public sector in ensuring proper planning and regulation, as well as partnerships and donor involvement, would improve the network to Africa’s wider benefit.©OECD Observer No. 255, May 2006OECD (2006), African Economic Outlook, Development Centre, Paris. Available at www.oecdbookshop.org.


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