to 2021 by 0.2 per centage points from its earlier projection, citing a slowdown in fixed investment and policy uncertainty in the global economy.
The bank said the region’s economy was expected to grow 2.6 per cent this year, from a 2.8 per cent projection in April. It said growth would rise to 3.1 per cent in 2020 and 3.2 per cent in 2021.
“Despite some improvements, the external environment is expected to remain difficult and uncertain for the region,” the bank said in its October Africa’s Pulse report.
China and the United States, the world’s leading economies, this year imposed new tariffs on each other’s goods as part of a long-running dispute over Beijing’s trading practices, which Washington says are unfair.
Those tensions, plus softening global growth and falling commodity prices, compounded by the slow pace of reforms in African countries, “are weighing on activity across the region”, the bank said.
On the continent, drought, security threats, increases in the cost of public borrowing and private investment are also slowing growth.
Nigeria, South Africa and Angola, which make up about 60 per cent of sub-Saharan Africa’s annual economic output, are all facing various impediments, the bank said.
Nigeria’s economy is expected to grow 2.0 per cent this year, compared with the previous forecast of 2.1 per cent in April and to expand 2.1 per cent in 2020 and 2021, which are 0.1 and 0.3 percentage points lower than the April forecasts, respectively.
“The medium-term growth outlook continues to be constrained by a weak macroeconomic policy environment and slow policy implementation,” the bank said, citing multiple exchange rates, foreign exchange restrictions, high inflation, and low non-oil revenues among other obstacles.
South Africa’s economy will expand 0.8 per cent this year, from a 1.3 per cent forecast in April, and growth will rise to 1.0 per cent in 2020 from the bank’s April forecast of 1.7 per cent, the bank said.
It said it made the cuts in its forecasts for South Africa due to the sharp slowdown in GDP growth in the first quarter of this year, low investor sentiment, and persistent policy uncertainty, including whether a solution could be found for state power firm Eskom.
The bank said Angola’s economy will grow 0.7 per cent this year, from a World Bank projection of 1.0 per cent in April.
The rest of Sub-Saharan Africa excluding Nigeria, South Africa and Angola is expected to grow 4.0 per cent this year from the World Bank’s 4.4 per cent projection in April, and 4.7 per cent next year and 4.8 per cent in 2021 in line with its April forecasts.
The bank said the proportion of African countries determined to be in debt distress or in high risk of external debt distress had doubled, but the pace of deterioration had reduced. (Reuters/NAN)
Edited by Abdullahi Mohammed/Ali Baba-Inuwa
Greek PM visits Israel for talks over economic ties, West Bank annexation
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis arrived in Israel on Tuesday morning for a two-day visit over economic ties between the two countries and the Israeli planned annexation of the West Bank lands.
Mitsotakis is leading a delegation of senior officials, including six ministers and deputy ministers, and will hold government-to-government talks over the renewal of Israeli tourism to Greece, energy, and bilateral cooperation, according to Israeli officials.
The Greek prime minister is scheduled to hold two meetings with his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu, according to the Israeli prime minister’s office.
The Hebrew-language Ha’aretz newspaper reported that Netanyahu is expected to ask Mitsotakis to soften the EU’s reaction to his plan to annex the Jordan Valley, a portion of the West Bank that Israel seized in the 1967 Middle East war.
EU FMs air concerns over Israel’s plan to annex West Bank in video-call with Pompeo
Foreign ministers of the European Union (EU) states voiced concerns over Israel’s plan to annex West Bank at a video conference Monday with United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who “has not accepted or refused anything.”
Josep Borrell, High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, said the move could affect the prospects of a two-state solution and the regional stability.
Borrell said Pompeo took notes of EU states’ opinions, including a German one which “has been very much concrete and insisted a lot in the need of preventing annexation.”
Pompeo “has not accepted or refused anything”, as the meeting was only for an exchange of views, said Borrell at a press conference following the three-hour meeting, which also touched on issues of China and Ukraine.
Borrell said the EU encourages the Israelis and the Palestinians to engage in a credible and meaningful political process, and the bloc recognizes that the latest plan initiated by the United States could serve as a starting point for negotiation, although it does not “respect internationally-agreed parameters.”
Earlier in June, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas visited Israel and voiced concerns over Israel’s plan to begin annexing portions of the West Bank on July 1 and warned that such a move will violate international law.
As the first European minister to visit Israel since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, Maas said Germany and the EU “seek dialogue” with Israel, but stressed that Europe objects the annexation.
Facebook Launches “My Digital World” to meet literacy needs in Africa
Facebook says it has launched “My Digital World”, a programme designed to equip the youth and general public across Sub-Saharan Africa, including Nigeria with skills needed to navigate the digital world.
Facebook made the disclosure in a statement on Monday.
It said that “My Digital World” was a consolidation of all Facebook digital literacy programs including Safe Online with Facebook, Ilizwe Lam, and eZibo which would all be offered virtually this year to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The company said over the years, it had trained thousands of people on digital literacy skills.
It noted that this year it was prepared to train close to 20,000 participants across Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya, Zambia, Senegal, Cote d’Ivoire and Ethiopia on safe, responsible and beneficial usage of the digital platforms.
Commenting, Phil Oduor, Policy Programs Manager for Economic Impact and Digital Literacy, Facebook said: “We remain committed to equipping young people and the general public across Sub-Saharan Africa with the vital digital skills needed to navigate the digital world, especially during these pandemic.
Oduor said it had never been more important to invest and train communities, the next generation of leaders to better understand and utilise the power of digital tools to take full advantage of what the internet had to offer.
“The training is free and open to youths aged 13 years and above, and will also focus on teachers, parents and guardians.
“The sessions commence from today June 15 with the programme including up to 90-minutes Instructor-led live webinars featuring presentations, demos and virtual discussions.
“Also they will have access to digital marketing campaigns highlighting best practices, tips, quizzes and polls on digital literacy topics, with content delivered through Facebook and Instagram.
“Modules on online safety, privacy, news and media literacy, and digital citizenship citizenship would also be made available.
“Facebook is committed to the well-being of individuals and communities visiting its platforms, “Oduor said.
He said Facebook also invested in this initiative to build awareness on responsible online behaviour, critical thinking and understanding of social issues.
Oduor said Facebook had also instituted policies, tools, resources, partnerships, and programmes to help enable safe, responsible, and beneficial use of its platforms.
Edited By: Ekemini Ladejobi (NAN)