Macroeconomic management weakens, social inclusion slightly up in Africa's fragile countries

world bank macroAfrica's poorest countries saw a very little progress on average in improving the quality of their policy and institutional frameworks in 2018, according to the World Bank's annual Country Policy and Institutional Assessment (CPIA) report

The average CPIA score in Africa's 38 International Development Association (IDA)-eligible countries in 2018 remained unchanged at 3.1 on a scale of 0 to six, with some areas of social policy seeing improvements while macroeconomic management weakened.

Rwanda continues to top the CPIA ratings both in Africa and around the globe with a score of 4.0, followed in the region by Cabo Verde (3.8) and Kenya, Senegal and Uganda (all at 3.7). South Sudan remained the lowest-scoring country on the CPIA with a score of 1.5.

This year's CPIA Africa report takes a closer look at debt management, as the median government debt-to-GDP ratio reached 54.9 per cent of GDP in 2018, an 18.5 percentage-point increase since 2013. At the same time, the share of foreign currency bonds in total external debt increased by 10 per cent while the shares of debt owed to commercial and non-Paris Club creditors rose by five percentage points since 2010 and sovereign bond issuances have increased rapidly.

“Some African countries are at risk of mortgaging their people's futures in favour of today's consumption,” said Albert Zeufack, chief economist for Africa at the World Bank. “When countries spend most of their revenue servicing debt, fewer resources are left for education, health, and critical services for their people. This stops progress in its tracks.”

Fragile countries in sub-Saharan Africa improved slightly in the areas of gender equality, human development and environmental stability, which bode well for their ability to tackle the drivers of conflict and exclusion. In fact, fragile countries in Africa saw a stronger performance in social inclusion than fragile countries in other parts of the world. Non-fragile IDA countries in Africa performed on par with their global peers overall, with the notable exception of social inclusion policies, where they underperformed especially on the issue of gender equality.

“Improvements in social inclusion and service delivery have historically been crucial elements of countries' transitions out of fragility, so even modest steps count,” said Gerard Kambou, senior economist and lead author of the CPIA report.

“African countries, fragile and non-fragile, need to keep the focus on gender, education, health, climate and governance issues alongside macroeconomic management if they want to see true and lasting progress,” Kambou added.

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