African economic growth at a 10-year high, UN commission says

3 April 2006

New York, USA, 03 April – The average economic growth of African countries in 2004 was 4.6 percent, according to a survey by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), to which Macauhub had access. The figure represents a 10-year high for average GDP growth in Africa.

The survey said that growth was underpinned by “strong global recovery, higher prices for raw materials and high oil production and prices.”

“Good macroeconomic management, improved agricultural performance all over the continent, improved political situation in many countries as well as the support of international donors all contributed to the positive performance,” the survey, published in New York last week, said.

But, said the ECA, average growth fell below the target set by the Millennium Development Initiative, which pointed at growth of 7 percent, which was only achieved by 7 African countries, including Angola and Mozambique.

The region which had strongest growth was Central Africa, particularly Chad, which saw 39.4 percent growth and Equatorial Guinea, with 18.3 percent driven by increased oil prices on the international market.

In West Africa, average growth reached 5.8 percent, in the North it was 4.8 percent and the southern region saw the lowest rate of growth, 3.5 percent, despite a significant improvement.

In this region the ECA highlighted the case of Angola, “which emerged from a conflict to become the second largest economy and post the second highest growth rate,” in Southern Africa, as well as Mozambique which benefited from “strong performance fo the agricultural sector.”

According to Commission figures, in 2004 foreign direct investment in Africa increased by 25 percent against the previous year to US$20 billion.

“The high prices of commodities attracted new foreign exploration projects mainly focused on the diamond, gold, oil and platinum sectors,” while “a more favorable perception by investors and regulatory reforms in many African countries also helped to attract investment.”

But, despite the high level of economic growth the Commission concluded that it had not been directly reflected in reducing poverty on the continent to any significant degree.

Therefore it recommended that, “government should create and encourage a climate in which the private sector can grow and create jobs,” namely through reducing bureaucracy, providing micro-credit and setting up small and medium-sized companies. (macauhub)