Eastern Africa has doubled its income per capita in a decade: ECA

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Eastern Africa has doubled its income per capita in a decade: ECA

Eastern Africa has doubled its income per capita in a decade: ECA
Photo credit: Graeme Robertson

Eastern Africa continues to grow rapidly. As a result, the region’s average per capita income reached 740 USD in 2016, double the figure ten years earlier.

“Albeit from a very low base, this is the result of sustaining rates of economic growth considerably higher than African or global averages over the period,” says Mr. Andrew Mold, Acting Director the Office for Eastern Africa of UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).

“We should not fool ourselves – the region still needs to confront some serious developmental challenges if it is to attain the Sustainable Development Goals in 2030 – but in general the people of Eastern Africa now live longer and healthier, receive better education, and enjoy an improved quality of life compared with just a generation ago,” stressed Mold.

A policy dialogue was organised yesterday by the Office for Eastern Africa of ECA at Kigali Conventional Centre to exchange views on progress and challenges in the region.

According to new ECA report entitled Macroeconomic and Social Developments in Eastern Africa 2018, despite the marked improvements, growth in the region is still fragile. In particular, the development of the manufacturing sector in Eastern Africa has been lagging behind, limiting job creation and holding back technological progress.

The report notes that other than in Ethiopia, which has implemented an ambitious programme of export-oriented industrial parks, government policies have not thus far managed to promote robust growth in the manufacturing sector.

Another important theme highlighted in the report is the need to improve the business environment in Eastern Africa. Private sector development has been relatively lackluster and the bulk of productive investments are still accounted for the public sector. Growth would be stronger and more resilient if policies were implemented to bolster private sector activity, the report argues.

The Eastern Africa region comprises: Burundi, Comoros, D.R Congo, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Madagascar, Rwanda, Seychelles, Somalia, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda.


About the report

This report provides an overview of the key macroeconomic and social developments in Eastern Africa in recent years. With the aim of setting the scene for more in-depth policy discussion, it has also reviewed the major structural changes in the regional economies over the past 10 to 15 years.

Countries have been benchmarked against the average regional performance, highlighting their main achievements, challenges and opportunities for future growth and development. Where relevant, examples of different policy initiatives have been discussed to promote peer-learning.

Eastern Africa is still growing at a healthy pace compared with the rest of Africa, principally due to the robust growth of the construction sector and parts of the services sector (particularly transport and finance). However, the economic performance of Eastern Africa has weakened during the last two years, principally due to drought, a decline in commodity prices, and (in some cases) growing political instability and/or civil conflict. In addition, the region has had to confront numerous humanitarian crises.

The authors also stressed the importance of policymakers addressing several emerging social problems to mitigate their negative impacts, such as high levels of alcohol abuse, road traffic deaths and low survival rates from chronic diseases like cancer.