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20.07.2004 Business & Finance

West Africa averaged only 4 per cent growth last year

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Accra, July 20, GNA- West Africa averaged a regional growth of four per cent last year, double the 1.9 per cent achieved in 2002 with Nigeria, the region's powerhouse accounting for 48.7 per cent of the region's output.

According to a new Report dubbed 'Africa in the Global Trading System,' the African Development Bank (ADB) put the region's real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2003 at 15.3 per cent of the continent's total a contribution roughly equivalent to that of Central and East Africa combined. The region however, ranks far behind the North and Southern regions.

The Report said Benin continued its robust economic growth in 2003, despite a slight reduction of 5.5 per cent from 6.4 per cent in 2002. Benin's cotton production in 2003-2004 was expected to reach 410,000 tonnes against a low output of 336,000 in 2002 to 2003 while inflation remained subdued at 1.79 per cent reflecting a sound monetary policy, despite fiscal slippage owing to the elections.

There was however, satisfactory food supply conditions and strengthening exchange rate system.

Growth in Burkina Faso declined sharply to 2.6 per cent in 2003. Manufacturing suffered heavily due to the instability in Cote d'Ivoire resulting in inflation rising slightly in 2003.

Cote d'Ivoire also suffered its dip in growth for the fourth year running in row in 2003 with real GDP declining by three per cent. The political stalemate, according to the Report, took a heavy toll on all sectors, especially in the manufacturing and investment sectors. Cote d'Ivoire with the second largest economy in the region and still experiencing civil disturbances since 2002, registered negative growth for the second consecutive year running.

Senegal, Mali, Guinea-Bissau, Niger, Sierra Leone and Togo all managed below five per cent growths.

Ghana, the Report said managed 4.7 per cent growth in 2003 growth against an average of 4.2 per cent in 1999-2002.

Robust growth was manifest in all sectors with the agricultural sector looking forward to a third successive year of favourable food and export crop production with cocoa peaking to the highest price ever per ton of between 8.5 to 9 million cedis.

The Report asked the Ghanaian government to watch increases in wage and utility bills since they could affect the fast declining pace of inflation that stood at 11.2 per cent as at end of June 2004.

The Report attributed this to improved weather conditions marked by a steady and evenly distributed rainfall nationwide.

It described the industrial sector as lagging behind as compared to all regions with respect to manufacturing activity and the intensity of industrialization, measured by manufacturing value-added per capita. On structural reforms, the programme focused on introducing price adjustment mechanisms in petroleum, water and electricity sectors to help restore the financial viability of the loss making utilities service providers.

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