Economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa is likely to slow this year to its weakest in nearly two decades, according to experts at the International Monetary Fund.
The main reasons are the steep decline in commodity prices, the Ebola outbreak and drought.
In its latest African Economic Outlook report, the IMF said GDP in the region is set to expand by three percent this year – down from last year’s 3.4 percent.
The last time it was at that level was 1999.
Growth is seen recovering to four percent next year, helped by a slight improvement in commodity prices.
The IMF said it is still optimistic about sub-Saharan Africa’s longer term prospects but stressed that urgent and substantial government reforms are needed to realise its potential.
Gainers and losers
Major oil exporters Angola and Nigeria were hardest hit by the slump in commodities prices, as were Ghana, South Africa and Zambia, the report said.
Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone were only gradually recovering from the Ebola epidemic, while several southern and eastern African countries including Ethiopia, Malawi and Zimbabwe were suffering from a severe drought, the IMF added.
On the other hand, Côte d’Ivoire, Kenya and Senegal would see growth of more than five percent, mostly “supported by ongoing infrastructure investment efforts and strong private consumption,” the report said.