Opinion and Analysis
Bridging the digital divide will help shield Africa from external shocks
Posted Wednesday, February 3 2010 at 00:00
Twelve months ago, the economic clouds were dark and prospects gloomy.
As a result of the crisis at the epicentres of the global economy, demand for and prices of our exports, especially mineral products, were falling.
Investment flows including the IT industry were retrenching.
There is no doubt this has caused some damage and interrupted the economic momentum we had built since the turn of this decade.
Nonetheless, Africa has shown a remarkable resilience; our banking systems have remained robust and the worst effects into the real economy have, with some exceptions, especially mineral producing countries, been generally contained.
Today, while the situation varies from country to country–– information available imprecise, and the data inadequate––much of Africa has avoided the worst of a major recession.
Not only have we avoided that major recession, the prospect for 2010 are extremely encouraging.
Assessments converge that in 2010 Africa will probably resume its pre-crisis growth path- and indeed is likely to be the second fastest growing continent after Asia.
Our projections for 2010 are converging around average real growth of 5 per cent in 2010 and 6 per cent in 2011.
There remains serious risks and uncertainties which have potential to unravel this renewed performance.
Naturally it will take time for all the economies to resume strong growth at the same time, but momentum is building in most regions of Africa.
Some residual problems remain and will take time.
Demand for our commodities and exports may not return to recent peaks but has nonetheless strengthened.
Investment flows are slowly resuming and both the budget positions and the current accounts are steadily improving.
We are not yet completely out of the woods- but there is now reason to look ahead with confidence.