Growth to strengthen in sub-Saharan Africa: IMF

(iStock)
(iStock)

Johannesburg - Economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa is set to accelerate to 3.4% next year, the International Monetary Fund said on Tuesday, citing Nigeria's recovering oil and agricultural sectors.

The IMF said in its latest World Economic Outlook report that the region would grow by 2.6% this year after 1.4% in 2016.

"Growth is expected to rise gradually," it said, while noting that the rate would be uneven and "barely above population growth".

GDP in the west African powerhouse Nigeria contracted by 1.6% in 2016, but is predicted to grow by 0.8% this year and 1.9% next year.

The IMF said Nigeria was benefitting from "recovering oil production and ongoing strength in the agricultural sector", but the lender raised concerns about policy implementation and weakness in the banking system.

Last month Nigeria's economy emerged from recession after five consecutive quarters of contraction triggered by the fall in oil prices that slashed government revenues.

Angola, where Jose Eduardo dos Santos stepped down as president last month after 38 years, is also set for a boost from the oil recovery, rebounding to 1.5% growth this year from a 0.7% contraction last year.

The IMF predicted weak growth of 0.7% in South Africa in 2017, saying "heightened political uncertainty" in the ruling ANC party had hit confidence despite good agricultural production.

Among the low-income countries in the sub-Saharan region, the report forecast continued high growth in Ethiopia, at 8.5% in 2017 and 2018.

It also warned of food shortages and drought in The Gambia, South Sudan and Somalia.

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