Africa still on the rise but gaps remain: WEF

9th May 2013, Comments 0 comments

African economies are still on the rise but gaps in key areas are putting the long-term viability of the continent's boom in question, the World Economic Forum warned Thursday.

"If you look at Africa, you really do see a story of gaps in a sense," said Jennifer Blanke, chief economist at the World Economic Forum.

Speaking at the launch of a report on competitiveness on the continent, Blanke warned that the stumbling blocks clouded Africa's long-term outlook after years of fast growth.

"A lot is changing, things are starting to look better, there are improvements," she told journalists.

"But the fact that these gaps still remain do raise questions about whether the improvements that we've seen, the incredible growth that we've seen over the last 10 to 15 years, will be sustainable over the next decade."

Against other emerging market regions, this was particularly evident in critical and basic areas such as education, use of technology, infrastructure, and governance.

The continent also suffered badly on competitiveness.

"If you look at our rankings of 144 economies, you will see at the bottom 20, 14 are in fact African economies," said Blanke.

Regional integration was a key problem with Africa the world's least integrated region despite several overlapping trade pacts.

African exports make up two to three percent of world trade, but only 12 percent of them stay on the continent.

This was against 25 percent for South East Asia, 49 percent in North America and 65 percent in the Europe Union.

"Also there is this issue of continuing to produce goods pretty low on the value chain so there's a quantity and a quality issue," she said.

Cumbersome border processes and a major infrastructure deficit were also highlighted.

It was a "precipitous moment" to take necessary actions, said Blanke.

The report is co-published by the WEF, the African Development Bank and the World Bank.

© 2013 AFP

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