African economic growth will slow to 3.5 percent this year and may wane to 2.5 percent or less in 2010 unless industrialized nations fund a stimulus package for the continent, the World Bank's top economist for Africa said.
“The rest of the world must raise their game,” Obiageli Ezekwesili, the World Bank's vice president for Africa, told reporters today at an African Union summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. “Africa did not create this problem. Africa should not be left to suffer the impact of this alone.”
Many governments on the continent don't have the flexibility for stimulus plans that would add to deficits, the official said. Industrialized nations should divert 0.7 percent of their measures to Africa to soften effects of the crisis and improve roads, electric lines and infrastructure, she said.
The global slump has put better-performing economies such as Ghana and Zambia in danger of failing to meet anti-poverty targets, Ezekwesili said. Both countries were expected to cut the number of citizens living in poverty by 50 percent by 2015, a cornerstone of United Nation's Millenium Development Goals.
“Africa is suffering as a result of collateral damage,” Ezekwesili said. “Growth is what will deliver many millions of Africans out of the poverty bracket.”
Continental growth, fueled by rising prices for oil, coffee and other commodities, was 5.8 percent in 2007, according to the UN Economic Commission for Africa. Prior to the financial crisis, the UN estimated growth of 6.2 percent for 2008.