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Africa has Suffered Terribly from the Twin Crises of Covid-19 and Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine

The 2022 African Economic Outlook (AEO), the African Development Bank’s flagship publication released at the midpoint of last week’s Annual Meetings in Accra, can be summarised in six words: Growth, down. Inflation, up. Debt, stable. These three factors – contraction, inflation and debt – have together jeopardised the rebuild that Africa commenced in 2021, and the AEO is frank in warning: “Africa’s growth outlook is highly uncertain, with risks tilting to the downside.” The AEO predicts real GDP growth to decelerate to 4.1% in 2022. But it is worth remembering that prior to these shifts, Africa had one of the largest and most robust recoveries of any region on earth, with its 6.9% real gross GDP growth in 2021 eclipsing the European, North American, South American and world averages. The AEO takes African diversity seriously, and presents its analysis by country, region and economy type. What we see is huge diversity in growth performance, with varied economic structures absorbing common shocks in different ways. The AEO, as the flagship product of one of Africa’s most dominant institutions, provides an invaluable insight into the forces and ideas that shape the lives of billions. Drilling down into simple narratives reveals that Africa’s economic, development and environmental futures are as complex, diverse and dynamic as the continent itself, and in many cases, are being negotiated in real time.