ADDIS ABABA (Xinhua) – The year 2014 was an interesting year for Africa whereby the continent is still with projection of above five per cent economic growth despite conflicts in some countries and the Ebola crisis in West Africa, said Dr Carlos Lopes, UN under Secretary General and Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).
In an exclusive interview with Xinhua, Lopes said the size of the three West African countries most affected by Ebola is relatively small in terms of Africa’s combined economy and that the impact would not be that big.
Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone are the three hardest-hit West African countries by the Ebola epidemic.
“2014 was a very interesting year. There were some turbulence; people of course remember all hysteria around Ebola and the fact that the perception that Ebola may affect African economy direly.
What we have to say that actually there is a bit of exaggeration because the size of the three countries affected Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone is relatively small in terms of the Africa combined economy,” he said.
“However, we are very much aware that some investors, some developments in the tourist and transportation sectors may be affected because of the hysteria.
“We hope it will not be that big. The prediction is that (the economy will) still have a yearly growth above five per cent,” he noted.
Stating that there is disruption in terms of investment, the executive secretary expressed hope that the effect by oil prices on the economic performance of oil-exporting African countries would not be that big as it is partly compensated by non-oil producing countries and also by other sectors on the continent.
“In terms of the oil prices, this is much more threatening because we have a number of countries that are export dependent in terms of their oil and gas and we know that these countries happen to be also quite powerful economies for the continent.
“So, they will certainly have some repercussions in the overall performance of the continent.
“We hope it will not be that big because partly it will be compensated by non-oil producing countries being able to buy cheaper.
“Therefore, there is a … (bill) of balance there,” he said.
For such reason, Lopes noted the diversification of Africa’s investment portfolio.
He further said that countries that are dependent on commodities are actually observing some volatility while others that are very integrated financially in the global market are suffering from depreciation of their currency.
He also said the conflicts in some countries like South Sudan and in the Great Lakes region have disruptions on positive economic performances in Africa.
“But, what is important for us to underline is Africa is the region with the highest growth in the world right now,” he said.
He emphasised the need to diversify Africa’s economy and enhance manufacturing value additions to create more jobs and respond to the demographics.