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According to the World Bank’s latest Africa’s Pulse report, government debt in sub-Saharan Africa remains high, with median government debt expected to be around 50% of gross domestic product (GDP) this year. In South Africa, government debt in 2017 is expected to rise two percentage points to about 53% of GDP.

Seven countries account for over three-fourths of the total bond debt issued: South Africa, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria, Angola, Zambia, and Kenya. Nigeria and South Africa exited recession in the second quarter of 2017 as expected, the report says, but quicker and sharper-than-expected normalisation in interest rates in the US could trigger a reversal in capital flows to South Africa.

World Bank predicts slow growth for SA

“After a marked slowdown in 2016, growth in Sub-Saharan Africa strengthened in 2017, as global activity and trade gained momentum, commodity prices recovered, and global financing conditions remained favourable. Growth in the region is expected to pick up from a two-decade low of 1.3% in 2016 to 2.4% in 2017, slightly below the April forecast of 2.6%,” Africa’s Pulse states.

However, the World Bank has downgraded 2017 projections due to various conditions, including the failure of Nigeria – which has Africa’s biggest economy – to meet expectations. “Regional per capita output growth is forecast to be negative for the second consecutive year, while investment growth remains low, and productivity growth is falling.”

As the region’s only emerging market, South Africa would be particularly vulnerable to adverse swings in investor sentiment, according to the report, which adds that capital flows into South Africa already decelerated to 4.2% of GDP in 2015, after posting an annual average amount of 6.6% of GDP between 2011 and 2014. The reduction in capital flows to South Africa was mainly driven by reduced foreign direct investment, which accounted for about half of the drop in total inflows.

The World Bank predicts that South Africa would only grow by 0.6% this year. Growth in  http://www.engineeringnews.co.za/topic/south-africa the country is projected to rise to 1.1% in 2018 and 1.7% in 2019. The forecast for 2019 was revised down by 0.3 of a percentage point. “The outlook remains challenging, with policy uncertainty and low business confidence expected to continue to weigh on investment,” the report states.

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Copyright: bluebay / 123RF Stock Photo

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