African economic growth Steve Jordan/Stringer

Is Africa Still Rising?

Growth across Sub-Saharan Africa has weakened since 2015, and the poor outlook for commodity prices has cast doubt on the region’s economic promise, leading critics to conclude that Africa's economic heyday is over. Yet the gains that African economies have made are real, and will not be easily reversed.

WASHINGTON, DC – Between 2000 and 2014, Africa grew at a strong clip, fueling belief in the narrative of an “Africa rising.” But, since 2015, growth across Sub-Saharan Africa has weakened, and the poor outlook for commodity prices has cast doubt on Africa’s economic promise, leading many to question the “Africa rising” narrative – and some to pronounce it dead.

Such skepticism is, to some extent, understandable. The 2014 oil-price shock hit several African economies especially hard, and played a role in pushing aggregate growth down from 5-6% in 2004-2014 to just 2.5% in 2015-2017 – a rate that barely keeps up with population growth.

Moreover, the continent's three largest economies – Angola, Nigeria, and South Africa – have experienced major declines in performance. Last year, Angola and South Africa’s economies stagnated, while the Nigerian economy actually contracted for the first time since 1991. The latest projections suggest that these economies will experience tepid recoveries in the coming years.

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