How economic subregions in Africa performed in 2015

The report by United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) report on Africa's economy details how various economic subregions in Africa performed in 2015.

Africa map

Highest growth rate in East Africa

East Africa maintained the highest growth rate in the region, at 6.2 per cent in 2015, despite a decline from 7.0 per cent in 2014 owing to slower growth in Ethiopia and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Ethiopia’s net exports suffered from low commodity prices and an increase in imports of capital goods and construction-related services. Its drought is one of the risks facing the country, particularly for food security. In DRC, the growing service sector and the dominant mining sector still drive growth, though political uncertainties in that country weigh on subregional growth. Infrastructure development, robust private consumption and exports drive growth in Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania.

Slow growth in West Africa


Growth in West Africa slowed to 4.4 per cent in 2015, from 5.7 per cent in 2014, mainly because of slower growth in Nigeria, emanating from weaker oil prices, uncertainty surrounding the March 2015 elections, power outages and the war against Boko Haram. In Ghana, lower cocoa production and energy challenges slowed growth, while in Côte d’Ivoire continued public infrastructure investment and robust performance in services and agriculture supported growth. The Ebola outbreak’s consequences in the three most affected countries—Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone— hit their expansion, even if Guinea and Liberia returned to positive growth.

Security concerns in Central Africa

In Central Africa, overall growth slipped from 3.5 per cent in 2014 to 3.4 per cent in 2015, despite improved mining performance. Most countries maintained relatively high growth, but security concerns in the Central African Republic (CAR) and lower oil production in Equatorial Guinea contributed to a decline in subregional GDP.

Political and economic stability in North Africa

Growth in North Africa (excluding Libya) accelerated from 2.8 per cent in 2014 to 3.6 per cent in 2015, helped by improved political and economic stability, and a subsequent increase in business confidence, especially in Egypt and Tunisia. Heavy external aid to Egypt raised public expenditure and boosted investment in large infrastructure projects, such as the Suez Canal’s expansion. The gradual recovery of export markets and hopes for improved security should support growth, especially through tourism. Algeria’s oil production picked up for the first time in eight years and is boosting growth. Mauritania still has the fastest (and steadiest) growth in the region, supported by sound macroeconomic and structural policies. Growth was buttressed by mining and construction, and by private consumption and investment—exceptionally high investment of about 45 per cent of GDP bodes well for the future. Continuing political challenges in Libya continue to hurt political and economic governance in the subregion.


Marginal growth in Southern Africa

Southern Africa’s growth increased marginally from 2.4 per cent in 2014 to 2.5 per cent in 2015, heavily influenced by poor growth in the subregion’s largest economy, South Africa. Weak export demand and low prices for key raw materials, as well as electricity shortages, subdued South Africa’s performance. In Angola, GDP growth remained strong despite low oil prices, as the government embarked on investing in strategic non-oil sectors such as electricity, construction and technology. Mozambique and Zambia recorded the highest growth in the region, driven respectively by large infrastructure projects and FDI in mining.


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