Africa – the world’s poorest continent – is home to the five fastest growing economies globally this year, according to forecasts by the IMF. 

Ghana is projected to have the most rapidly expanding economy globally at 8.79% in 2019, followed by South Sudan at 8.78%, Rwanda at 7.8%, Ethiopia at 7.7% and Côte d’Ivoire at 7.4%. (Outside Africa, the fastest growing economy is forecast to be Bangladesh at 7.28%, followed by India at 7.25%.)


The strength of some African economies contrasts sharply with the subdued global economy – worldwide growth is forecast at only 3.2% in 2019, picking up to 3.5% in 2020. For advanced economies, growth is projected at 1.9% in 2019 and at 1.7% in 2020. The emerging market and developing economy group is expected to grow at 4.1% in 2019, rising to 4.7% in 2020. In sub-Saharan Africa as a whole, growth is expected at 3.4% in 2019 and 3.6% in 2020.

While African economies start at a low base, many are expanding fast. The average poverty rate for sub-Saharan Africa stood at about 41% in 2015. Of the world’s 28 poorest countries, 27 were in the sub-Saharan region, all with a poverty rate above 30%, according to latest research from the World Bank. This compares with a global poverty rate of only 10%. 

Ghana is one of the planet’s star economies. Long known as one of the world’s largest cocoa producers, Ghana’s growth is now being buoyed by rising oil production. It is also one of the largest exporters of gold in the world. 

The country has a GDP of $68.2bn with 30.7 million inhabitants, according to IMF estimates. But average income per head is only $2260 annually. The IMF forecasts economic growth will slow down to 5.8% next year.

“The Ghanaian authorities have achieved significant macroeconomic gains over the course of the extended credit facility-supported programme, with rising growth, single-digit inflation, fiscal consolidation and banking sector clean-up,” said Tao Zhang, the IMF’s deputy managing director during its last review of its $185m extended credit facility to Ghana in March. “Continued macroeconomic adjustment should underpin these improvements as the 2020 elections approach.”

South Sudan’s entry among the top five is something of a puzzle because the war-torn country’s economy dropped by 1.19% in 2018 and by 5.49% in 2017. It has an economy of just $3.1bn with a population of 13.3 million, and is one of the world’s poorest countries with income per head at $235 a year, according to the IMF.