African countries are among the fastest growing economies in the world


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Despite a slowdown in the global economic recovery and an increasingly difficult global environment, Sub-Saharan African countries are continuing to post solid growth

Following a 4.6 percent expansion in 2010, the region’s output is expected to grow by 4.8 percent this year (5.8 percent excluding South Africa) and by more than 5 percent in 2012 and 2013. 

Indeed, African countries are amongst the fastest growing countries in the world: Ghana is projected to grow by well over 10 percent this year; and nearly 40 percent of the countries in the region are likely to see 6 percent or higher growth rates.  Growth in Africa remains closely linked to the evolution of international commodity prices—oil, metals, and non-food agricultural commodities—which have remained generally buoyant. 

Not surprisingly, a sharp deterioration in global conditions would weigh down on the region's prospects.  Moreover, this time around African countries will be more constrained in their policy options: because they have less fiscal space than they had in the wake of the 2008 global financial and economic crisis. Read the full analysis on Africa's Pulse.


Punam Chuhan-Pole

Lead Economist, Africa Region, World Bank

Join the Conversation

Abdoulaye Niang
September 20, 2011

Economic growth is contributed largely by enterprises with the capital form dominantly by foreign groups of private and public entrepreneurs and investors. Under such business arrangement, the Wealth of the Nation generated is largely retained by foreign nationals. This justifies the existence of 2Africas: One Africa with a solid growth rate and One Africa with over 30 States at the bottom of the Human Development Index.
The Centre for Globalization Leadership is for the restructuring of the capital of joint-ventures to make it inclusive of the participation of groups of public and private investors to be at least 40 percent of extractive and agriculture industries but ideally to be 60 percent. The Africa Spring in Tunisia and Egypt and the Wealth War between NATO and China without the army of China in libya should help harness the will of the political leadership to launch a vast program of restructuring the capital of the existing joint-ventures.

September 21, 2011

Enough of cosmetic figures. The global economic recovery is painfully slow hence the figures credited to Africa.

Raymond Jatta
September 21, 2011

I wonder how growth indicators are a measure of welfare in Africa. Like someone said, of what importance is growth, when many more people are falling into poverty?
Our economies have reported growth over the past three decades, but indicators such as poverty, unemployment, hunger continue to increase in many parts of Africa.

Is the measure of GDP a good measure for growth?
How robust are the tools we use in measuring GDP growth?
Is the growth being enjoyed by a few whilst many are denied?

Of course, growth affects poverty in different ways depending on the source of such growth and those that enjoy the benefits of such growth.

September 21, 2011

"African countries are amongst the fastest growing countries in the world..., growth in Africa remains closely linked to the evolution of international commodity prices—oil, metals, and non-food agricultural commodities—which have remained generally buoyant".
What will this growth look like in 2, 3 or 4 years, when these prices will fall? Please stop telling that african economies are in good shape just because the growth rates are at a substantial level. First ask the question who benefit from these prices going up? The US, or the French, or the English firms extraxting oil, metals and non-food agricultural commodities. I used to say "Africa doesn't produce oil, they (put for US, English, French firms) produce oil in Africa". Second, as long as we'll not produce enough food commodities or have an industrial basis, all these growth rates will be fake. Please read this It's clear that an economy cannot succeed without a big manufacturing base. Full stop.

henok abebe
September 21, 2011

hi i want to know is realy ethiopia the fastest growing country in africa 2011?

Punam Chuhan-Pole
September 21, 2011

Thanks for the post. Africa’s growth has been broad-based, both in the decade prior to the 2008 global financial crisis and in 2010-11. It is very relevant to know how Africans are benefiting from this growth. One thing that we do see is that a decade of steady growth in the region has been accompanied by an improvement on many of the Millennium Development Goals. For example, the region’s poverty rate -- proportion of people with a daily consumption of $1.25 or less -- has fallen from 59 percent in 1995 to 51 percent in 2005, with poverty reduction greater in urban areas than rural areas. Of course, the extent to which poverty declined has varied across countries. Tangible progress has also been achieved on human development indicators: child mortality rates have fallen 18 percent between 2000 and 2009; primary school enrollments have risen from 59 percent to 76 percent between 2000-08; and 27 countries in the region have either achieved or are likely to achieve gender parity in education. These positive trends are broad-based with the largest improvement in low-income countries.

Is this progress enough? Clearly, not. More and more inclusive growth is needed. But at the same time it is progress that cannot be denied

September 21, 2011

Ghana is the fastest growing economy, followed by Congo and Ethiopia. You can see a table with the fastest growing African economies in 2011 on page 3 of the report.

September 22, 2011

good Growth Numbers are a great thing, especially on the impact it has on Western perception of the African Continent.

When the "bottom billion" is among the 'fastest growing economies, one will pause and take note.

But I also believe that the very growth creates space for latency and cosmetic strategies that do not necesarily trickle down to the very people who need to feel that growth.

The number of poor people in Sub saharan Africa has almost doubled (between 1981 and 2005) and Africa's share of the world poor has increased from 11% to 27%. This has been attributed to population growth, so clearly, either resources are not sufficient for the population growth or no one's interested in creating policies that 1.- addresses the massive population growth or 2, spurs the economy enough to support that population increase and consequent local demand.

So where is this growth being felt? I think the celebration should be halted, another crisis on the way, and several African countries may this time not survive it as we did in 2008.

Punam Chuhan-Pole
September 23, 2011

You make some good observations Terryanne. There is certainly no place for complacency. Even as the incidence of poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa has trended down beginning in the mid-1990s, the actual number of poor people has risen. The region has the highest average total fertility rate -- 5.1 births per woman -- in the world [Family Planning Trends in Sub-Saharan Africa in Yes Africa Can.See it here:,,content…

However, note that India, which has reduced the incidence of poverty by 10 percentage points between 1990 and 2005, has also seen an increase in the number of people who are poor.

September 23, 2011

I would argue that this is a disingenuous presentation of what is happening in Africa. Not totally inaccurate, but a presentation with some massive holes. Is Ghana really a good representation of SSA? Plus, let's talk about the use of GDP as an indicator of growth -- come on! OK, GDP (with GNP) can be a good gauge to a country's economy but what about the factors on the Human Development Index? Is a country really any better off with a higher GDP if the people are still improvised? And their natural resources plundered? Are these poor countries saving enough from the revenues of the natural resources? Even with high oil prices Nigeria is only meeting expenditures -- there is no savings! If you want to convince me that Africa is progressing lets talk about the countries left behind, or those who got over the hump of absolute poverty too late... let's talk about Center Africa Republic, Chad, Somalia, Sudan, Mali. Not Ghana like you use. Let's talk about countries where almost everything has failed. Aid. Governance projects.

September 29, 2011

I agree with some of the comments expressing doubts about the accuracy of the indexes used to measure growth.

The questions it seems to invoke is whether or not this growth is lifting Africa out of poverty or is this just a mirage which is masking more of the same.

From my non-expert assessment, I believe - especially after the 2010 Word Cup - the world is looking at Africa with new eyes. Additionally, many African expatriates, with education, are returning to take advantage of new opportunities in Africa.

Check out these links:……

October 03, 2011

It is interesting to see that the skeptics voice predominate in this debate. There is of course serious questioning about "growth" itself as a useful yardstick for assessing meaningful development (that is change that matters for the majority). In addition to this general skepticism, there seem to be something particularly wrong with African growth! That wrong thing seems to resolve around the fact it is difficult to find that growth on the ground. Is this due to the phenomenon which Abdoulaye Niang raised in the first comment? Yes that does carry a part of the answer! UNECA over at least the past two years has been decry the disturbing trend of jobless growth. We urgently need to find a way of re-positioning local SMEs as the heart of the African economies. Growth must be located at that level. Can less centralized economic development interventions produce that outcome? That is what initiatives such as LEDNA ( seek to promote. Whatever the means, it is today key that that dynamic local productive base be developed. It does not exist now and is not seen to be emerging.

Frontier Strategy Group
October 31, 2011

We thought it would be relevant to share our "eight big questions" for Africa in 2012:
(1) Can the continent withstand continuing volatility in commodity prices?
(2) Will a series of major elections cause seismic shifts or entrench the status quo?
(3) Will North Africa’s wave of anti-government protests shift southwards?
(4) Can Kenya come through a pivotal year unscathed?
(5) With a mandate to govern, can Nigeria’s new government implement positive and sustainable reforms?
(6) Will there be a leadership challenge in South Africa?
(7) Will Asian companies continue to make the running in Africa?
(8) Can East Africa meaningfully integrate?

We have analysis of these eight big questions on our blog, and would love to further any discussion regarding them.

Rachel Kasumba
October 29, 2011

Punam, thanks for initiating this interesting debate on a topic that is not only on so many people's lips and minds, but also in white papers, best sellers, blogs, research papers, on the street, has investors both foreign and local rushing to get a piece of the action, donors, etc. This is a great time for a continent that until recently, was ignored except for the donor community who have spent billions in a bid to lift the lives of ordinary people out of poverty.

Sergie I agree with you that involving local SMEs would help towards growth on the continent. Local SMEs create employment (self-reliance) thereby reducing unemployment, crime rates, etc. However, local solutions cannot be the only catalyst to growth in a global economy. In many countries in Africa, many local SMEs still rely heavily on importing products manufactured elsewhere, and so only act as middle men with less capacity to produce jobs. Those that would like to add value to their exports are usually unable to get loans to engage in these activities that would have brought in more revenue and work. The biggest challenge for local SMEs that are able to surmount these problems is that most of them produce goods and services that the locals perceive or find inferior to those that are imported. So they need to improve on what they produce instead of just focusing on mass production of poor quality goods at the lowest price. They need to realize that consumers are becoming more savvy and demanding and will not just spend their hard earned money in the name of patriotism at the expense of quality.

Going back to your point, repositioning local SMEs will only be successful if they are enabled with affordable loans, tax credits, less bureaucracy, are willing to up the quality of their goods and service, etc

November 02, 2011

what is the relationship between global economy and local country economy and does a change in global economy can cause a changein the local country economy

January 20, 2012

If you don't mind i'd like to ask how much of the growth can be attributed to the participation of NGO's and foreign investors like India and China. I'd also like to ask how the participants feel about the new AFRICAOM project. I ever so humbly thank you.

December 29, 2012

It was bound to happen, with a bit of encouragement and a little push, any country can grow. The United States on the other hand continues to waste money on unnecessary things.