‘Africa to see robust growth’

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London - Sub-Saharan Africa is likely to show robust 5.8 percent growth this year, with domestic demand playing a key role, but business must do more to promote a more inclusive society, the African Development Bank said on Monday.

“We are looking at growth of around 5.8 percent this year in sub-Saharan Africa, excluding South Africa it would be 6.2 percent,” AfDB president Donald Kaberuka told Reuters in an interview on the sidelines of a business briefing.

Growth prospects for the region were “slightly higher” than 2012, Kaberuka added.

The World Bank forecasts growth of 4.9 percent this year for sub-Saharan Africa, with South African growth seen at 2.7 percent.

Growth in Africa has been strong in the past few years, compared with anaemic growth in much of the developed world. The World Bank sees global growth at 2.4 percent this year, with high income countries expected to see a rise of only 1.3 percent.

Mining and resources only contributed around 30-32 percent towards sub-Saharan African growth, Kaberuka said, with consumer demand, infrastructure, financial services and agri-business the other main contributors.

Kaberuka said he hoped to outline plans at the bank's annual meeting in Marrakech in May for an infrastructure bond totalling up to $24 billion, backed by the AfDB and bought by African central banks, to help investment in the region.

But the AfDB president told the briefing that despite rapid growth on the continent, Africa still suffered from too much poverty and wealth inequality, and needed to make more progress towards creating an inclusive society.

“A lot needs to be done about equity...especially around natural resources management,” Kaberuka said, adding that AfDB calculations showed wealth inequality has been rising in Africa by around 1.5 percent a year since 2000.

“Sometimes it seems that the rent-seeking elites and the extractive industry business live off each other. Otherwise, how can we explain that a country pumps out two million barrels of oil a day and yet half live below the poverty line?”

Both policymakers and investors had their part to play in spreading wealth more evenly, Kaberuka said.

“Perhaps for too long we have been pointing fingers at governments, businesses have a responsibility here as well,” he said.

“This is Africa's trouble, which prevents us going to the next level.” - Reuters

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