By Fatou Dahaba
The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, Economic and Statistical Observatory for Sub-Saharan Africa (AFRISTA) and the Economic Commission for West Africa (ECOWAS) are currently conveying the third seminar on the economic situation and short-term forecasts for ECOWAS English speaking countries in Banjul.
The seminar is organized to take stock of the economic situation and discuss prospects about the multifaceted impact of crisis on the ECOWAS countries’ economics.
The objective of the seminar is to share experiences and take stock of the recent economic situation and the macroeconomic estimate for the year 2022, forecasts for 2023 and projections for 2024 to 2025 in the ECOWAS English speaking countries (The Gambia, Ghana, Nigeria, Liberia and Sierra Leone).
It also seeks to contribute to the efforts made to inform the monitoring of the macroeconomic convergence in the ECOWAS countries and to orient national and sub-regional policy development and programmes.
Iliyasu Mustapha Bobbi, Principal Programme Officer Economic Affairs and Agriculture Department from ECOWAS Commission said, following the devastating impact of COVID-19 in 2020 the economics of the region contracted by almost 1 percent that is 0.8 percent but in 2021 it busted a growth rate of 4.2 percent.
According to him, recovery was largely attributed to the performances of all member states driving mainly by agriculture, export of raw materials and activities in the service sector especially transportation and hospitality industries.
“ Member states central banks also played a role in the economic recovery of 2021 not only by maintain accommodative monitoring policy to support the fight against COVID-19 but went beyond their traditional mandate in some instances by paying direct alleviation to business and industry.
This means they were sending direct credit to Government and today the current inflationary treasure in the region has force most banks to reverse trend including the accommodative monitoring policies,” he stated.
He cited that, it is his opinion that policies such as the policy for alleviating impact of COVID-19 adopted by member states has lay the foundation to the current prices the region is facing especially inflations which he said most be address.
He further states that, the Russia and Ukraine war has led to the down grading of the global growth by the IMF from 6.1 percent to 3.2 percent. He went on to say that, the inflation up graded to 8.3 percent against 4.7 percent as predicted earlier base on report from member states.
“The impact of global economic condition as well the impact of local political situation including conflict and security were significant,” he noted.
Bakary Dosso, Senior Economic Affairs Officer, Chief of the Central for Demographic Dynamics for Development said the West African region has already been shaken by structural challenges such as climate change, insecurity in the Sahel, political instability, and demographic trends, which constitute bottlenecks for economic growth and development.
“The ECA estimate indicate that the economic growth contracted by 0.6 percent in 2020 in West Africa. In 2021, growth resumed slowly at 4.3 percent, a performance well below the 7.6 percent required to absorb the negative impact of the preceding year. In 2022, the economic growth is forecasted at 4.2 percent amid inflation pressure in all countries of the community. Annual inflation in forecasted at 14.7 percent in 2022, the highest rate of the last decade.”
He stressed out that if the current dynamic continues, West African countries will not achieve key sustainable development goals targets on economic growth of 7.0 percent, elimination of extreme poverty in all its forms, health and education.
Alagie Fadera, Director of Planning at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs said the seminar is important for countries to commit themselves to evidence base policies and planning to the availability of reliable and timely data which they are going to adequately formulate policies, plans and strategies to address the development challenges they’re faced with.
“Despite the challenges, we will also create opportunity for us to be able to rethink our policies and how to make them robust to address the problems we are encountering as a country, sub-regional and continent.”
Mr. Fadera added that, the continent is confronted by climate change resilient which is having a significant impact on various facets of their development and all these combine challenges are speeding into macroeconomic and other socio economic challenges.
“In many countries we have seen the different inflation level for some countries in double digit for the first time after very long time of single digit inflation and contraction in GDP growth rate.”
The seminar is a pear learning platform in the areas of economic monitoring, short-term economic forecasting, and monitoring. It seeks to contribute to the efforts made by countries and regional organizations in the implementation and monitoring macroeconomic policies
The seminar brought together statisticians, macroeconomists, and forecasters from ministries of finance and economic affairs, national statistical offices, and central banks to review economic situation of the region faced by internal and global challenges.