Sub-Saharan Africa is forecast to experience economic growth of 2.7 per cent in 2021 as it rebounds from its first recession in 25 years, the World Bank said Tuesday.
Regional output dropped by 3.7 per cent in 2020 as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and strict lockdowns enacted to stem its spread.
The recession last year halted almost two decades of growth at an average annual rate of four per cent.
“Expectations of a sluggish recovery in sub-Saharan Africa reflect persistent COVID-19 outbreaks in several economies that have inhibited the resumption of economic activity,” a World Bank statement said.
“The rebound is expected to be slightly stronger — although below historical averages — among agricultural commodity exporters.”
The bank named agricultural exporters such as Benin, Ivory Coast, Malawi and Uganda as countries whose economies contracted less sharply in 2020.
Oil exporting nations such as Nigeria (where growth is estimated at 1.1 per cent in 2021) are expected to face a tougher recovery.
In South Africa, whose ailing economy is in recession, and has been hit by Africa’s worst Covid-19 outbreak, growth is expected to rebound to 3.3 per cent in 2021.
The International Monetary Fund has predicted slightly higher growth of 3.1 per cent for sub-Saharan Africa this year.
The World Bank said that per capita income in the region had shrunk by 6.1 percent last year, setting average living standards back by a decade in a quarter of sub-Saharan African countries.
“This reversal is expected to push tens of millions more people into extreme poverty over last year and this year,” it warned.