The 2016 African Economic Outlook (AEO) was launched by the Nigeria Country Office of the African Development Bank at an outreach event held at the Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria.
The theme of the 2016 AEO is Sustainable Cities and Structural Transformation. The report looks closely at Africa’s distinctive pathways towards urbanisation, and how this is increasingly shifting economic resources to more productive activities.
The publication covers all 54 African nations, with individual country notes and corresponding statistical annexes. Nigeria’s case formed the basis for exchange of views on the AEO, as well as deliberations on prospects for the Nigerian economy.
The July 29, 2016 event started off with a brief meeting with the university’s senior management, which expressed appreciation of the Bank’s efforts in reaching out to academia and encouraging scholars to engage in public policy space. In his remarks, the Country Director of AfDB’s Nigeria Office, Ousmane Dore, emphasised the importance of the report. “It significantly informs policy dialogue and feeds into the design of Bank’s projects to support government priorities,” Dore said.
AfDB Lead Economist, Barbara Barungi outlined the main findings of the report. According to the publication, Africa’s economic performance had been steady and was expected to remain moderate in 2015 and strengthen in 2016 against the backdrop of a fragile global economy.
The continent remained the second fastest-growing economic region after East Asia. The report predicts the continent’s average growth at 3.7% in 2016, increasing to 4.5% in 2017, provided the world economy strengthens and commodity prices gradually recover.
Urbanisation, the report states, is a megatrend that is transforming African societies profoundly. However, this is not accompanied by structural transformation, and therefore industrialisation remains rather slow. Two-thirds of the investments in urban infrastructure until 2050 are yet to be made, the report adds.
If harnessed by adequate urban planning policies, urbanisation can help advance economic development through higher agricultural productivity, industrialisation, services and foreign direct investment in urban corridors.
According to the report, Nigeria has had a sluggish economic growth of 2.8% since the end of 2015. At the time of the report launch, Barungi reported that the economy had contracted further by 0.36% in the first quarter of 2016, while inflation continued to rise, standing at 16.5%.
Policy reforms by the new administration are highlighted, and they include strong fiscal policy, improvements in public sector transparency and accountability, as well as adoption of a more flexible exchange rate.
Nigeria has been rapidly urbanising, with fast-growing cities such as Lagos and Kano facing increasing unemployment and income inequality due to poor urban planning and weak links between structural transformation and urbanisation.
About the report:
The African Economic Outlook is produced annually by the African Development Bank (AfDB), the OECD Development Centre and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).