Short Overview of African Countries

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Lesotho. Small, landlocked, and mountainous, Lesotho's only important natural resource is water. Its economy is based on subsistence agriculture, livestock, and remittances from miners employed in South Africa. The number of such mine workers has declined steadily over the past several years. In 1996 their remittances added about 33% to GDP compared with the addition of roughly 67% in 1990. A small manufacturing base depends largely on farm products which support the milling, canning, leather, and jute industries. Agricultural products are exported primarily to South Africa. Proceeds from membership in a common customs union with South Africa form the majority of government revenue. Although drought has decreased agricultural activity over the past few years, completion of a major hydropower facility in January 1998 now permits the sale of water to South Africa, generating royalties that will be an important source of income for Lesotho. The pace of parastatal privatization has increased in recent years. Civil disorder in September 1998 destroyed 80% of the commercial infrastructure in Maseru and two other major towns. Most firms were not covered by insurance, and the rebuilding of small and medium business has been a significant challenge in terms of both economic growth and employment levels. Output dropped 10% in 1998 and recovered slowly in 1999.

Mozambique. Before the peace accord of October 1992, Mozambique's economy was devastated by a protracted civil war and socialist mismanagement. In 1994, it ranked as one of the poorest countries in the world. Since then, Mozambique has undertaken a series of economic reforms. Almost all aspects of the economy have been liberalized to some extent. More than 900 state enterprises have been privatized. Pending are tax and much needed commercial code reform, as well as greater private sector involvement in the transportation, telecommunications, and energy sectors. Since 1996, inflation has been low and foreign exchange rates stable. Albeit from a small base, Mozambique's economy grew at an annual 10% rate in 1997-99, one of the highest growth rates in the world. Still, the country depends on foreign assistance to balance the budget and to pay for a trade imbalance in which imports outnumber exports by five to one or more. The medium-term outlook for the country looks bright, as trade and transportation links to South Africa and the rest of the region are expected to improve and sizable foreign investments materialize. Among these investments are metal production (aluminum, steel), natural gas, power generation, agriculture (cotton, sugar), fishing, timber, and transportation services. Additional exports in these areas should bring in needed foreign exchange. In addition, Mozambique is on track to receive a formal cancellation of a large portion of its external debt through a World Bank initiative.

Rwanda. Rwanda is a rural country with about 90% of the population engaged in (mainly subsistence) agriculture. It is the most densely populated country in Africa; is landlocked; and has few natural resources and minimal industry. Primary exports are coffee and tea. The 1994 genocide decimated Rwanda's fragile economic base, severely impoverished the population, particularly women, and eroded the country's ability to attract private and external investment. However, Rwanda has made significant progress in stabilizing and rehabilitating its economy. GDP has rebounded, and inflation has been curbed. In June 1998, Rwanda signed an Enhanced Structural Adjustment Facility (ESAF) with the IMF. Rwanda has also embarked upon an ambitious privatization program with the World Bank. Continued growth in 2000 depends on the maintenance of international aid levels and the strengthening of world prices of coffee and tea.

Zambia. Despite progress in privatization and budgetary reform, Zambia's economy has a long way to go. The recent privatization of the huge government-owned Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines (ZCCM) should greatly improve Zambia's prospects for international debt relief, as the government will no longer have to cover the mammoth losses generated by that sector. Inflation and unemployment rates remain high, however.

Реферат опубликован: 1/03/2009