Africa’s economic growth dipped to 3.2% in 2023, falling short of the 4.1% recorded in 2022, the African Development Bank (AfDB) reported. Despite the slowdown, the bank projected a return to faster growth for most regions in 2024, with the exception of Central Africa.

The AfDB attributed the slowdown to a confluence of factors, including the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the ongoing war in Ukraine, China’s economic deceleration, and political instability within the continent. Additionally, the bank revised its 2023 growth estimates downwards for Central and North Africa, citing a recession in oil-producing Equatorial Guinea and the devastating floods in Libya.

“The shocks buffeting African economies since 2020 have damaged growth, with long-term implications,” the bank warned in its report.

However, amid the challenges, 15 African countries defied the trend, achieving economic growth exceeding 5% in 2023. These included Ethiopia, Ivory Coast, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mauritius, and Rwanda.

Looking forward, the AfDB forecasts an upswing in growth for all regions except Central Africa in 2024. East Africa is expected to lead the pack with 5.7% growth, while Southern Africa remains the laggard at 2.2%. This sluggish performance, according to the bank, reflects the continued economic stagnation in South Africa, the region’s largest economy. South Africa is predicted to grow 1.1% in 2024, marginally up from 0.8% in 2023, despite holding national elections this year.

“This underwhelming economic situation has aggravated the country’s persistently high unemployment, poverty, and inequality, preventing it from reaping democratic dividends in the 30 years since the end of White minority rule,” the AfDB stated.

Nigeria, West Africa’s largest economy, is expected to grow 2.9% in 2024, a slight increase from 2023’s 2.5%. However, a sharply devalued currency is pushing up inflation, exacerbating a cost-of-living crisis.

In Egypt, high inflation and foreign exchange shortages are forecast to drag down growth to 3.7% this year, compared to 4% in 2023.

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