African countries must leverage innovation to boost electricity production as one way of speeding up economic growth which in its current state is not good enough, the World Bank said.
In its latest flagship report: Africa’s Pulse, the Bank said low energy access, alongside the effect of rising debt burden and macroeconomic imbalances, have held back the continent’s economic growth despite the little progress registered.
“Growth has rebounded in Sub-Saharan Africa, but not fast enough. We are still far from pre-crisis growth levels,” Albert G. Zeufack, World Bank Chief Economist for the Africa Region, told journalists on Wednesday at the launch of the report in a live teleconference.
“African governments must speed up and deepen macroeconomic and structural reforms to achieve high and sustained levels of growth,” Zeufack said from the Bank’s headquarters in Washington.
Africa’s Pulse is a bi-annual analysis of the state of African economies conducted by the World Bank.
This, the 17th edition, showed a projected growth of 3.1 percent in 2018, which is expected to average 3.6 percent in 2019-20.
The Bank’s economists say the growth forecasts are premised on expectations that oil and metals prices will remain stable, and that governments in the region will implement reforms to address macroeconomic imbalances and boost investment.
The experts also say while this minimal growth represents good news, it fell far short of what it should be.
They therefore called on governments to implement structural reforms and focus more on concessional debts as sources of funding for infrastructural development programs.
Some 18 Sub Saharan African countries were classified in the latest report as being at high risk of debt distress in 2018, compared to eight in 2013.
World Bank lead economist and author of the report, Punam Chuhan-Pole, said the region saw more than 20 percentage point rate of debt increase.
She said public debt relative to GDP was rising in the region, and that the composition of debt has changed, as countries
have shifted away from traditional concessional sources of financing toward more market-based ones.
Higher debt burdens and the increasing exposure to market risks raise concern about debt sustainability, she said.