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Sub-Sahara Africa’s Economic Growth Projections Are Bullish

Sub-Saharan Africa, with numbers from powerhouse South Africa excluded, can expect economic growth of 6.6 percent on average this year, says African Development Bank President Donald Kaberuka.

“The dynamic is good, there are risks in the global environment, but providing there is no worsening in the current situation we remain completely optimistic about the future,” he said in an interview with “Business Day” in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, over the weekend.

“Now, if you include South Africa, because of its weight — that is, 30 percent of sub-Saharan Africa’s economy — the number goes down to 5.4 percent. But the predictions are still quite good.”

Kaberuka, a Rwandan economist, was in Addis Ababa for a meeting with his counterparts at the African Union Commission and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa.

Kaberuka said that he “remains extremely bullish” about South Africa. “I don’t partake in these pessimistic stories about South Africa. One has to take the longer-term view and contextualize it.”

He said the South African economy was highly diversified and competitive, according to World Economic Forum indicators. “They have got a lot going for them,” he said. “A first-class financial system, strong institutions — perhaps the strongest institutions on the African continent — and first-class infrastructure.

“Now the issue for them is to build on this to go to the next level.”

To do this, Kaberuka said that the government had to tackle the issues of exclusion and inequality that the apartheid system had bequeathed. It should also increase access to education -— which would help with the first two problems. “Then they have structural issues to deal with, especially in the labour market. But South Africa still has a very sound financial system, and a robust agricultural sector. But those three issues, they have to handle them,” he said.

Regarding Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma’s election as the first woman to chair the African Union Commission, Kaberuka said: “Beyond being female, she is extremely competent and talented. That she is female is the icing on the cake.

“I don’t look at Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma as a woman, I look at her as a leader. I think that her presence at the head of the organization at this time is very, very good. She has the right approach and the right vision. I think she will bring her gravitas and ownership at a time when the agenda of this continent is to unlock its internal potential, to fully own its future”…

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