World Bank contradicts Tanzania's growth estimates

Tanzania’s economy expanded 5.2 per cent in 2018, the World Bank said on Thursday, the second major report this year from a multilateral financial institution contradicting rosier government figures.

In a report, the World Bank, which makes its calculations based on state data, also forecast 2019 growth at 5.4 per cent - again lower than the government’s estimate of 7.1 per cent.

Last year’s growth was affected by a decline in investment, exports and private lending, the report said.

“Data related to consumption, investment and net trade suggest that growth softened in 2018,” it said.

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President John Magufuli embarked on an ambitious programme of industrialisation after coming to power in 2015, investing billions of dollars into infrastructure, including a new rail line, reviving the national carrier and a hydropower plant.

But government interventions in mining and agriculture have led to declining investment in east Africa’s third largest economy. Foreign direct investment has more than halved since 2013, while private sector lending growth plummeted to less than four per cent in 2018, far below the 20 per cent average between 2013-16.

The World Bank report follows an unpublished International Monetary Fund (IMF) report in April that also raised questions over Magufuli’s handling of the economy.

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A leaked version of the report, seen by Reuters, accused the government of undermining the economy with “unpredictable and interventionist” policies, saying medium-term growth would be around 4-5 per cent, again below official forecasts.

In its report, the World Bank said investment growth was subdued partly because of government struggles to meet spending targets in development projects. The economy could grow to six per cent by 2021 “with a modest improvement of the business climate”, said the lender.

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World BankIMF report