New UN report offers cautiously optimistic prognosis for Africa's economy

12 July 2002

frica grew faster than any other developing region in 2001, reflecting better macroeconomic management, strong agricultural production, and the end to conflicts in several countries, according to a new United Nations report.

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The conclusions come from the latest Economic Report on Africa, the annual flagship publication of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) that will be released next week at the Commission's headquarters in Addis Ababa.

Entitled "Tracking Performance and Progress," the report argues that the continent's gains were made amid the synchronized slowdown of all major economies and the 11 September terrorist attacks on the United States.

Africa’s average gross domestic product (GDP) growth of 4.3 per cent last year, however, masks wide disparities on the continent, from a 65 per cent expansion in Equatorial Guinea to a contraction of 7.5 per cent in Zimbabwe. The report emphasizes that economic growth remains fragile, and confirms that at current rates Africa will not achieve any of the Millennium Development Goals – such as cutting hunger and poverty in half – set by world leaders at the UN 2000 Millennium Summit.

The report provides a cautiously optimistic prognosis of the medium-term prospects for Africa, including the opportunities created by the US African Growth and Opportunity Act, the European Union's "Everything but Arms" initiative, the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), and the launches of the Doha Development Round and the Africa Union.

On the downside, the issues of political governance, civil conflicts, and developments in the world economy will dominate in the medium-term, according to the report, which also supplements its traditional analysis with seven in-depth country studies spanning the diversity of Africa.

 

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