AS the economic growth in Sub-Saharan Africa is projected to recover to 2.6 per cent, the World Bank has advised Tanzania to invest in both soft and hard infrastructure for a better investment climate and economic growth.
The World Bank said in its latest report ‘Africa’s Pulse’ launched on Wednesday that economic growth was seen expanding to 2.6 per cent this year and further to 3.2 per cent in 2018 and 3.5 per cent a year later.
This was said yesterday by the World Bank chief economist for Africa, Albert Zeufack, during a teleconference while launching the report from the banks headquarters in Washington. “It is time to focus on both soft and hard traditional infrastructure bearing in mind that its efficiency matters a lot, it is also important to invest smartly on them,” he noted.
Mr Zeufack further said Tanzania was among the seven African countries that continued exhibiting economic resilience, supported by domestic demand posting annual growth rates above 5.4 per cent in 2015- 2017.
Other African countries are Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mali, Rwanda and Senegal. These countries house nearly 27 per cent of the region’s population and account for 13 per cent of the regions total gross domestic product (GDP) Hard infrastructure includes roads, bridges and railways while soft infrastructure is human capital and institutions that cultivate it, such as community colleges and universities.
He further said telecommunication infrastructure has improved dramatically in Sub- Saharan Africa, the number of fixed and mobile phone lines per 1,000 people increased from three in 1990 to 736 in 2014 and the number of internet users per 100 people increased from 1.3 in 2005 to 16.7 in 2015.
An economics lecturer at Mzumbe University, Prof Prosper Ngowi, said it was important for Tanzania to focus on soft infrastructure as the value transacted in that was much bigger than cargo transported in hard infrastructure.
The bank said the 2016 growth was the worst for the region in more than two decades, hurt by poor performance in Angola, Nigeria and South Africa, though Mali and Ivory Coast grew by more than six per cent. Mr Zeufack said tackling infrastructure was the key to stability.
Only 35 per cent of Africans have access to electricity which is the lowest among developing countries and that road density on the continent was also the lowest in the world.
“Risks to growth could occur if there is a slippage on reforms, heightened security concerns and policy uncertainty, leading to a sudden stop in investments,” Zeufack said.