Sub-Saharan Africa’s growth to accelerate despite tighter global conditions: Reuters poll


JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – Sub-Saharan economies will cope with tighter global liquidity this year and grow faster than in 2018, albeit at a lackluster rate compared to the commodity price boom heydays of a decade ago, a Reuters poll found.

As interest rates tighten in developed markets and trade tensions between two of the world’s largest economies simmer, the global economic wheels are expected to turn slower – but not enough to put the brakes on the region’s momentum.

The poll, taken in the past week, suggested Nigeria will grow 2.5 percent this year and Kenya 5.7 percent.

Nigerian growth was expected to touch 2.7 percent this year in the last survey carried out three months ago while Kenya was pegged at 5.8 percent. The west African nation grew 1.81 percent in the third quarter and the latter 6 percent.

A poll just a week ago showed South Africa would eke out 1.5 percent growth this year, up from 1.3 percent in 2017 and the 0.7 percent estimate for 2018, but a far cry from the over 5 percent it was running at more than a decade ago. [ECILT/ZA]

“Despite a tighter global backdrop, we expect the growth recovery in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) to persist, led by improved prospects in Nigeria and South Africa, the region’s largest economies,” Razia Khan, Africa research head at Standard Chartered, wrote in a note.

Nigeria and South Africa make up almost 50 percent of Sub-Saharan gross domestic product (GDP) in dollar terms and the World Bank projects growth of 3.4 percent this year in the region.

All economists who answered an extra question said growth in Sub-Saharan Africa would exceed 3 percent.

“Much of the region will continue to reap the benefits of an earlier turnaround in commodity prices, with oil economies finding some relief in higher oil prices,” Khan said.

Last quarter’s Reuters poll suggested sub-Saharan Africa’s economic recovery will progress slowly this year as the continent’s biggest drivers struggle to move into higher gear. [ECILT/NG]

Khan wrote that she does not expect many of Africa’s economies – excluding South Africa though due to more liquid financial markets – to be impacted by the first-order effects of global trade tensions.

Rates are expected to be relatively stable in the continent’s major economies. Medians showed they will be left at 14 percent in Nigeria and 9 percent in Kenya through to the middle of next year at least.

Ghana is expected to cut by 100 basis points to 16.00 percent early next year.

In contrast, the U.S. Federal Reserve has been raising rates. However, it has signaled fewer interest rate hikes over the next two years and expressed caution about the U.S. economic outlook.

Last week’s poll showed South Africa’s Reserve Bank will leave interest rates at 6.75 percent on Thursday.

(Other stories from the economic outlook polls:)

Polling by Vuyani Ndaba and Vivek Mishra, Editing by William Maclean

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