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JOHANNESBURG - Economic growth in Sub-Saharan Africa is recovering at a modest pace and is projected to pick up to 2.4% in 2017 from 1.3% in 2016, according to the new World Bank report on the regional outlook for Africa released on Wednesday.

The Africa Pulse is a bi-annual analysis of the state of African economies conducted by the World Bank. The report said this rebound on Sub-Saharan African countries was led by the region’s largest economies. 

The report said in the second quarter of this year, Nigeria pulled out of a five-quarter recession and South Africa emerged from two consecutive quarters of negative growth. 

Improving global conditions, including rising energy and metals prices and increased capital inflows, have helped support the recovery in regional growth. However, the report warns that the pace of the recovery remains sluggish and will be insufficient to lift per capita income in 2017. 

In non-resource intensive countries such as Ethiopia and Senegal, the report said growth remained broadly stable supported by infrastructure investments and increased crop production while an increase in output and investment in the mining sector amid rising metals prices had enabled a rebound in activity in metal exporting countries.

Headline inflation slowed across the region in 2017 amid stable exchange rates and slowing food price inflation due to higher food production. 

Albert Zeufack, World Bank chief economist for Africa, said that African countries needed strong fiscal policies to strengthen their economic resilience.

"Most countries do not have significant wiggle room when it comes to having enough fiscal space to cope with economic volatility," Zeufack said.

"It is imperative that countries adopt appropriate fiscal policies and structural measures now to strengthen economic resilience, boost productivity, increase investment, and promote economic diversification."

Looking ahead, the report said Sub-Saharan Africa is projected to see a moderate increase in economic activity, with growth rising to 3.2% in 2018 and 3.5% in 2019 as commodity prices firm and domestic demand gradually gains ground, helped by slowing inflation and monetary policy easing. 

 - AFRICAN NEWS AGENCY