East African region upbeat about economic prospects for 2018

Wednesday November 22 2017

EA economies are expected to see an expansion

EA economies are expected to see an expansion in communications, transport and construction sectors next year. FOTOSEARCH 

By MARYANNE GICOBI
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East African economies are expected to see an expansion in communications, transport and construction sectors next year.

Tanzania’s economy is expected to expand by 7.1 per cent in 2018, up from an estimated 7 per cent this year.

Finance and Planning Minister Philip Mpango has pledged to boost public investment in infrastructure, including a standard gauge railway, new roads and expansion of seaports.

A week ago, EAC Secretary General Liberat Mfumukeko received a $1.5 million grant with the African Development Bank in phase three of the construction of a road between Masaka in Uganda to Kumunazi in Tanzania.

The Tanzania government plans to raise spending by 2.4 per cent to Tsh32.476 trillion ($14.50 billion) in next year’s budget, with continued focus on public infrastructure investments and industrialisation of the economy.

“The government expects to borrow $600 million from external non-concessional lenders,” Dr Mpango said.

Kenya on the other hand, trimmed its 2017 growth forecast from 5.5 per cent to 5 per cent.

“Agriculture in 2018 will be better than this year’s and that is the reason our growth looks optimistic, even as we face challenges on the investment side,” Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich said.
The economy slowed down for the better part of the year. In addition to the drought and its political uncertainty, credit growth slowed, partly because of the capping of commercial bank lending rates last year.

In Uganda, the economy grew by 3.9 per cent, which was below the projected 6.3 per cent. It is projected to grow by 5 per cent in 2018, according to a parliamentary report.

Rwanda’s 2018 growth is projected to be in the “range of 6 per cent to 7 per cent,” according to forecasts by the IMF.

The Fund projected Rwanda’s gross domestic product growth to 5.2 per cent this year from 6.2 per cent but predicted a pick-up in 2018.

The downward revision follows weak growth in the first half of the year as a 2016 construction boom was not sustained.

Finance Minister Claver Gatete said he expected the economy to be boosted by tourism, mining and rising prospects of oil exploration.