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African economic growth halves in 2011

Posted on Thursday, 26 January 2012 17:53

Economic Growth in Africa fell by almost half in 2011 compared to the growth registered in the previous year.

Speaking at the African Union (AU) Commission meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Abdoulie Janneh, executive secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa said growth on the continent fell to 2.7 percent in 2011 from nearly 5 percent in 2010.

“This was mainly due to a sharp economic downturn in North Africa as a result of the political events which took place in that sub region last year,” Janneh said.

Violent uprisings hit North Africa, which saw the deposal of leaders in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya.

ECA’s report, he said, indicated that growth continued to be propelled by better economic management, increased agricultural production, fairly strong commodity exports and increased domestic demand.

“Africa’s prospects for 2012 would seem encouraging, but given current global economic uncertain, I would urge continuous vigilance as the signs are ominous and we may face serious threats,” Janneh continued.

The uprisings in North Africa were about dignity, freedom, justice and accountability

”Since Europe as a bloc is still Africa’s biggest economic partner, we should expect that the crisis in the eurozone will impact on us through the channels of trade, remittance, investment, tourism and official development assistance.”

Janneh also indicated that political developments will also impact on Africa’s growth prospects.

“The uprisings in North Africa were about dignity, freedom, justice and accountability, but were also an expression of discontent arising from sharply rising inequality and lack of economic opportunity,” he added.

Trade within Africa stood at between 10 and 12 percent, compared with 40 percent in North American and 63 percent of trade by countries in Western Europe trading amongst themselves.

The summit is expected to discuss how to strengthen trade among African countries, with the hope that this continent’s economic performance.

“Boosting Intra Africa trade will open up and create large markets, foster greater competition, which in turn will lead to growth and sustainable development,” the AU said in a statement.

A continental Free Trade Agreement, already in the pipeline, would encompass 54 countries, more than one billion people and have an estimated Gross Domestic Product of more than US$2.5 trillion.

“This will give a greater boost to African economies and strengthen Africa’s role in global affairs,” added Erastus Mwencha, Deputy Chairperson of the AU Commission.

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