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World Bank: African GDP to Slow to 3.7 Percent

FILE - Staff of Etisalat Nigeria await customers during launch of mobile number portability in Lagos, the commercial capital of a nation that was poised to overtake South Africa as the biggest economy on the continent in 2013.

Economic growth is set to slow in Sub-Saharan Africa to 3.7 percent this year, its weakest pace since 2009, mainly due to the drop in commodity prices, the World Bank said on Monday.

The region's economy, which grew 4.6 percent last year, will strengthen only marginally in the next two years, it predicted.

"Growth in the region is projected to pick up to 4.4 percent in 2016, and further strengthen to 4.8 percent in 2017," it said in a bi-annual report titled Africa's Pulse.

Commodity-dependent economies from Zambia to Nigeria have suffered this year from the price rout of commodities like copper and oil, triggering currency falls that forced policymakers to tighten interest rates in response.

Repeating long-standing advice to commodity producers, the Bank's vice president for Africa, Makhtar Diop, said the slowdown should encourage policymakers to diversify economic activity.

"The end of the commodity super-cycle poses an opportunity for African countries," Diop said.

"Implementing the right policies to boost agricultural productivity, and reduce electricity costs while expanding access, will improve competitiveness and support the growth of light manufacturing," he said.

The report said Cote d'Ivoire, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Mozambique and Tanzania are still expected to grow robustly, posting 7 percent or more growth per year between this year and 2017.