Aidar Abdychev, La-Bhus Fah Jirasavetakul, Mr. Andrew W Jonelis, Mr. Lamin Y Leigh, Ashwin Moheeput, Friska Parulian, Ara Stepanyan, and Albert Touna Mama
Many small middle-income countries (SMICs) in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) have experienced a moderation in growth in recent years. Although factor accumulation, most notably capital deepening, was crucial to the success of many SMICs historically, this growth model appears to have run its course. The analysis in this paper suggests that the decline in the contribution of total factor productivity (TFP) to growth is largely responsible for the slowdown in trend growth in many SMICs, which highlights the need for policy actions to reinvigorate productivity growth. This paper explores the question of what kind of structural policies could boost productivity growth in SMICs and the political economy factors that may be contributing to the slow implementation of these critical reforms in these countries. The findings suggest that although macroeconomic stability and trade openness are necessary for productivity growth, they are not sufficient. SMICs need to improve the quality of their public spending, most notably in education to minimize the skill mismatch in the labor market, reduce the regulatory burden on firms, improve access to finance by small and medium-sized enterprises and create the enabling environment to facilitate structural transformation in these economies.
Olivier Basdevant, Mr. Andrew W Jonelis, Miss Borislava Mircheva, and Mr. Slavi T Slavov
Anecdotal evidence suggests that the economies of South Africa and its neighbors (Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland, and Zimbabwe) are tightly integrated with each other. There are important institutional linkages. Across the region there are also large flows of goods and capital, significant financial sector interconnections, as well as sizeable labor movements and associated remittance flows. These interconnections suggest that South Africa’s GDP growth rate should affect positively its neighbors’, a point we illustrate formally with the help of numerical simulations of the IMF’s GIMF model. However, our review and update of the available econometric evidence suggest that there is no strong evidence of real spillovers in the region after 1994, once global shocks are controlled for. More generally, we find no evidence of real spillovers from South Africa to the rest of the continent post-1994. We investigate the possible reasons for this lack of spillovers. Most importantly, the economies of South Africa and the rest of Sub-Saharan Africa might have de-coupled in the mid-1990s. That is when international sanctions on South Africa ended and the country re-integrated with the global economy, while growth in the rest of the continent accelerated due to a combination of domestic and external factors.
This 2013 Article IV consultation highlights Namibia’s positive growth record over the years, which has raised overall incomes and led to positive economic outcomes. However, growth has not translated into sufficient job creation, and unemployment and income inequality are persistently high. Real GDP growth is expected to moderate to 4 percent in 2013 from 5 percent in 2012 reflecting weak global demand for exports partially offset by solid growth in domestic demand. Given the uncertain external environment, the IMF staff recommends that the authorities pursue “growth-friendly” fiscal consolidation, reining in unproductive current spending while protecting growth-promoting capital spending. The IMF staff also welcomes efforts by the government to look into ways to steer a gradual reduction of the wage bill, which would improve labor market outcomes.