UNCTAD warns of social unrest amid slow economic growth in Africa
The weak growth trajectory of Africa’s three largest economies, Egypt, Nigeria and South Africa, which together account for about 60% of Africa’s GDP, could exacerbate social unrest in the region, a report by UNCTAD, the United Nations trade body, has warned.
Growth prospects in South Africa and across the continent have deteriorated, which threatens to push millions of Africans into poverty and exacerbate social unrest amid acute risks of food insecurity, the UN Conference of Trade and Development (UNCTAD) warned in a new report published on Monday (4 October). The sharp economic slowdown reflected several new challenges across the continent and the world, the report says, pointing namely to high international food and fuel prices, financial shocks owing to the stronger-than-anticipated tightening of monetary policy in advanced economies and acute risks of food insecurity in many parts of Africa.
To that end, UNCTAD called for advanced economies to change course in their monetary and fiscal policies — which broadly influences economies around the world — to avoid inflicting worse damage than the financial crisis in 2008 and the COVID-19 shock in 2020. The trade body said that the cascading crises resulting from the pandemic combined with debt distress, inflation, climate change and the war in Ukraine have already turned a global slowdown into a downturn. The report highlighted the weak growth trajectory of Africa’s three largest economies, Nigeria, Egypt and South Africa. Overall, Africa’s economic activity is expected to expand by a moderate 2.7% in 2022 and 2.4% in 2023, following a rebound of 5.1% in 2021, the UNCTAD said. As a result, an additional 58-million Africans will fall into extreme poverty in 2022, whereby the high prices and growing unemployment are likely to exacerbate social unrests across the continent.