Analyses and recommendations for the structural transformation of West African countries

Among the 21 reports presented, four are from West Africa: Cabo Verde, the Gambia, Ghana and Nigeria

The Economic Commission for Africa proceeded with the launching of the second generation of ECA Country Profiles on March 25 in Dakar.

The objective of this initiative is to provide analyses and specific recommendations for Member States in order to support structural transformation which in turn promotes sustained growth and sustainable social development, as well as regional integration or combating exclusion.

Regarding Cabo Verde, from the point of view of sub-regional integration, the country recorded a relatively low performance which is related to, among other things, ethno-linguistic and historical factors, the island geography of the country or a low potential for external goods trade. In effect, Cabo Verde is ranked tenth out of the 15 ECOWAS countries in terms of regional integration. However, the country has shown good performances in regional infrastructures and freedom of movement of people.

In Nigeria, shortages of electricity (32.8 power cuts on average per month in 2015) constitute a major problem for the economy

In the Gambia, agriculture and the service sector are the most dynamic sectors which employ the majority of the labour force. The country is dependent on rainfall, which explains the fluctuations in yields of agricultural production. These have a direct influence on the overall economic performance of the country and in turn influence social developments.

The budget expenditure of the Gambia has over time accentuated the pressure exercised on the financial viability of the public debt levels and crowde out private investment. In spite of these difficulties, the Gambia recorded good performances in terms of poverty reduction (poverty rate in terms of less than 1 US$ a day declined from 58.0 % in 2003 to 39.6 % in 2010).

In the case of Ghana, its rate of economic growth was at 4.0 % in 2014 and at 3.9% in 2015. The main macro-economic indicators reflect unsustainable fundamentals in the medium term. Moreover, since 2013 and 2014, Ghana has been at the centre of a serious energy crisis which is paralysing the economy. However, a good outlook is expected in 2016-2017, stimulated notably by the increase in the production of petroleum and gas and by the political stability of the country.

In Nigeria, shortages of electricity (32.8 power cuts on average per month in 2015) constitute a major problem for the economy. The infrastructures installed are insufficient to satisfy current demand. Nevertheless, recent privatisation efforts in the sector have improved the situation.

Among these four countries of West Africa, two have experienced average inflation rates that are lower than the African average of 7.9% during the period 2013-2015. Ghana (14.9%) experienced two-figure inflation and Nigeria 8.5%, followed by the Gambia (6.1%) and Cabo Verde with a very low rate of 0.5% (the currency is pegged to the euro).

In terms of economic performances during the period of 2013-2015, two of these four countries in West Africa with a country profile in 2016 recorded a real growth rate that higher than the average in Africa. Growth in Ghana (3.9 in 2015 compared with 9.3 in 2012) and Nigeria (2.7 in 2015 compared with 6.3 in 2014) has however recently been depressed by, among other factors, low world market prices for raw materials. Cabo Verde has recorded lower growth since 2009, owing to the prolonged effect of the global financial crisis, lower tourism revenues and exports. Gambia is sensitive to precipitation shocks, making growth highly volatile.

Source: United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA).

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