Sub-Saharan Africa growth to 'pick up' in 2014 says IMF

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) says sub-Saharan Africa growth will pick up in 2014 despite being moderately lower in 2013 owing to global headwinds.

It says growth in the region will come in at around five percent this year and rise to six percent in 2014.

"It is heartening to note that sub-Saharan Africa's economies have generally maintained a strong pace despite some tensions observed in the external environment, including somewhat slower growth in emerging market economies," said Antoinette Sayeh, Director of the IMF's African Department. "This is a reflection of continued sound macroeconomic policies as well as robust domestic demand, in particular investment in infrastructure and productive capacity."

She said the downside risks for the region would mainly arise from external factors, such as any further weakening in emerging markets or advanced economies that could result in commodity price declines.

"A further weakening in emerging markets—including some of sub-Saharan Africa's new economic partners—or in advanced economies could affect sub-Saharan Africa's prospects for growth, mostly through commodity price declines. Nevertheless, a downside scenario that we simulated suggests that large—but plausible—temporary declines in international commodity prices would not derail growth at the regional level. That said, growth and external current account balances could be significantly affected in some resource-intensive countries."

The main domestic vulnerabilities stem from weather and political events, which "pose important risks to individual countries and perhaps their immediate surroundings, but are less of a threat at the regional level," Ms. Sayeh said.

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