Ecobank Group, on Thursday in London launched the 2017 version of its Fixed Income, Currency and Commodities (FICC) Guidebook, showing, among others that economic rebound in sub-Saharan Africa would be driven by a recovery in Nigeria and South Africa, its economic heavyweights.
The report, which provides expert knowledge and analysis on African markets for investors and businesses and launched at AfricaFICC, also noted the impact of the ongoing growth in Ethiopia, Côte d’Ivoire and (more recently) Ghana, the continent’s top performers.
Key trends forecast to take hold during the next 12 months, the report noted include the fact that “growth will be driven by a rise in oil production (notably in Ghana, Republic of Congo, Nigeria and Angola), strengthening infrastructure investment across West and East Africa, and improved weather conditions which bode well for crops.
“Strengthening economic activity, plus a moderate improvement in oil and mineral prices, will help narrow the current account deficit, but pressure on SSA currencies will remain.”
The second emerging trend points is West Africa’s gas sector becoming a hive of activity in 2018 beginning from Senegal to Angola, with the development of gas pipelines, floating liquefied natural gas (FLNG) platforms and major gas field projects.
Governments in the Gulf of Guinea and across West Africa have ramped up efforts to secure gas supply in order to boost domestic power generation and diversify their revenues away from crude oil, the report noted, adding that a deregulation in the gas market to allow “market-driven gas prices will be key to unlocking further gas infrastructure investment across the region.”
There is also the effect of Fintech innovation in Africa picking up speed in 2018, buoyed by a new generation of Africans who are ‘digital natives,’ leading to a proliferation of tech hubs across the continent, notably in South Africa, Kenya, Rwanda, Nigeria, Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire. This trend is expected to help nurture the next wave of African start-ups and help connect them with investors.
“Digital innovation in SSA is being driven by the explosion in mobile phone usage, enabling African consumers to leapfrog existing business models and technologies,” a statement by the group added.
Already, African Fintech firms are increasingly driving this innovation, deploying digital tools to build credit profiles for the previously ‘unbankable’, providing electricity to rural households that were previously off the grid, even using artificial intelligence to diagnose health problems remotely.
The statement quoted Edward George, Head of Ecobank Group Research, as saying: “The digital world moves apace, and so must we. The AfricaFICC website is a key way that we can deliver our regional market analysis and expert local knowledge of 41 African markets – which is often hard to access – to a much wider audience. We think these three trends are strong evidence that Africa has weathered the storms of late and is very much on track for improved growth in 2018.”