JOHANNESBURG-Economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa will accelerate this year, boosted by emerging-market demand for its raw materials, the World Bank said Wednesday.
Gross domestic product for the region, encompassing all of Africa except the northern crescent of the continent from Morocco to Egypt, will probably expand 5.2% this year and 5.6% in 2013, following 4.9% growth in 2011, the bank said in its semiannual Africa Pulse report. The International Monetary Fund expects expansion of 5.4% in 2012 and 5.3% in 2013, according to estimates released Tuesday. World growth will be 3.5% this year, the IMF forecasts.
Asian and Latin American demand for commodities including copper, gold, platinum, cocoa and oil are likely to underpin sub-Saharan Africa’s economy, the World Bank said.
“Though weak demand from Europe will impact the region’s exports, the increasing diversification of trading partners should help cushion the effects of a slowdown in Europe,” the World Bank said.
Any further deterioration in Europe’s sovereign-debt crisis could shave as much as 1.8 percentage points off the 2012 forecast, while a slowdown in China, the world’s second-biggest economy, may mean lower demand for African crops and minerals and as a consequence, lower GDP. China’s economic growth slowed to 8.1% annually in the first quarter of this year, the slowest rate in three years.
“World Bank simulations suggest that if commodity prices were to fall as they did in the 2008-09 crisis, fiscal balances in sub-Saharan Africa could deteriorate by as much as four percentage points, with oil and metal exporters being worst affected,” the report said. “With the deterioration in fiscal positions since 2008, African countries would have less fiscal space to respond to a slower global economy.”
The portion of the population living on less than $1.25 a day, which the World Bank defines as poverty, fell from 58% in 1999 to 47.5% in 2008, the most recent year for which complete data are available, the bank estimates.
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