Raila's remarks on Africa growth figures at public talk off the mark

University Of Nairobi Vice Chancellor Prof. Peter Mbithi (left),former prime minister Raila Odinga(C)and Ford foundations president Darren Walker during Motivational talk by Ford foundations-Bridging the inequality gap in East Africa
How has Africa fared in terms of economic development in relation to the rest of the world?

This was the question on top of the agenda last week during the visit to Kenya by Ford Foundation President Darren Walker who gave a public lecture at the University of Nairobi.

Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga was also invited to give a speech during the public lecture themed “Bridging the Inequality Gap in East Africa.”

In his speech, Mr Odinga extolled the economic prospects of Africa and the continent’s potential to alleviate poverty and bridge inequality on the back of good governance and empowered youth.

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“From the 90s, there has been growth in our continent. By the World Bank account, two years ago, for the last 10 years, out of the 10 fastest growing economies in the world, six were on the African continent,” he said.

This is, however, not true. According to World Bank data analysed by the Financial Standard, between 2007 and 2017, only two African country features on the list of the top 10 fastest growing economies in the world.

A look at the average growth rates of the 255 global economies for which data is available indicates that the tiny island nation of Nauru has had the fastest growth rate in the past ten years averaging at 16.6 per cent cumulatively between 2007 and 2017.

The city-State of Monaco is ranked the second fastest growing economy in the world with a cumulative average of 12.2 GDP growth over the same period of time. Ethiopia, the only country on the top 10 fastest growing economies in the world, according to the World Bank, has been ranked third with a cumulative average growth rate of 10.2 per cent over the past ten years.

The rest of the countries rounding up the top 10, according to the global lender’s data, include Turkmenistan, Qatar, China, Myanmar, Uzbekistan, Djibouti and the Lao Peoples Republic respectively. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has a slightly different ranking of top 10 fastest growing economies where Nauru sits at the top of the index with 11.5 per cent average GDP growth rate between 2007 and 2017 followed by Ethiopia at 10 per cent. The IMF index, however, ranks Rwanda the 9th fastest growing economy with an average growth rate of 7.4 per cent and curiously ranks Djibouti at position 35.

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According to both indices, however, only two African countries are in the top 10 fastest growing economies in the world over the past decade and not six as claimed by Mr Odinga.

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Raila OdingaWorld Bank