Africa's growth prospects and the impact of Ebola - CNBC Africa

Africa's growth prospects and the impact of Ebola

Special Report

by Elayne Wangalwa 0

Africa is a diverse continent that offers substantial trade and investment opportunities across national and regional markets.

The continent continues to face challenges and constraints but continues to grow.

During a visit to three African countries – Egypt, Tanzania and South Africa - the United States Secretary of Treasury Jacob Lew noted that growth in the continent is likely to remain strong in the coming years.

“I think there is potential development of the African economy for many relationships and it is not a question should we [the United States] be here, should China be here, we both should be here. There is a good reason for both of us to be here to engage in trade in Africa,” Lew said on softening the US, China competition on investing in Africa growth.


US-led efforts to boost growth in the continent have led to the launch of two key initiatives - Trade Africa in Tanzania, and Power Africa in South Africa – that tackle vital constraints across the continent, improve infrastructure and policies to boost trade and reliable electricity to power businesses and light homes.

(READ MORE: Obama's Power Africa & the continent's Energy problems)

“If you look at the history of the US relationship with Africa, there is a long relationship of trust where we have provided much needed aid support. I think over the last decade and a half, it has been focused more heavily on health issues than on economic issues and I think you are seeing the pivot partially because we are making success in the health area,” Lew said.

Meanwhile, the US Secretary of Treasury said they would continue to help African countries in any capacity especially West African countries hardest hit by the Ebola Virus.

(READ MORE: Obama to send 3,000 troops to tackle Ebola)

“We have taken the lead in US in trying to help build facilities and to provide, train the personnel. The world has dealt with Ebola before, we know how to contain the disease and our response to the disease has to be accurate, it has to be based on what it takes to contain the disease and stop it from being a risk to countries that are currently not dealing with the infection,” Lew said.

This week more than 500 US army soldiers are already in Liberia one of the hardest Ebola stricken countries to help keep the epidemic from growing exponentially in West Africa. The outbreak has claimed about 5,000 lives and over than 10,000 suspected, probable and confirmed cases have been reported in the region.

The World Bank has estimated that the epidemic could cost West African economies 32 billion US dollars in 2015 and also revised growth estimates for the three countries hardest hit by the Ebola virus.

(READ MORE: Ebola shrinks West Africa's poorest economies)

According to the World Bank, GDP growth in Sierra Leone will drop by 3 per cent to 8.3 per cent, Guinea’s growth estimate is down to 2.4 per cent from a forecast of 4.5 per cent, while Liberia’s growth projections has been reduced to 2.5 per cent from 5.9 per cent.