ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) - Rising infrastructure investment and agricultural productivity, and a growing demand for Africa's exports will help the continent's economy expand by five percent in 2011 and 5.1 in 2012, the United Nations said.
Falling exports and weak commodity prices slowed the continent's growth to 2.3 percent in 2009, but improving global trade enabled Africa to rebound to 4.7 percent in 2010, according to the United Nation's World Economic Situation and Prospects report launched in Ethiopia on Tuesday.
"The recovery of global trade and the strong economic rebound in East Asia supported by a strong rebound in Africa's commodity exports," the UN said.
"Increased government spending on infrastructure, strong performance of the agricultural sector and new inflows of foreign investments in extractive industries underpinned strong growth in domestic demand," the report added.
However, the UN said the continent's overall growth has "masked" substantial disparities in economic performances by African countries.
Ethiopia, Egypt, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Zambia were among a few countries with "fast-growing" economies with growing manufacturing and service sectors, as well as improving agricultural production and investments in infrastructure.
The UN projected Ethiopia's economy would grow by 9.4 percent this year. Chad, Niger and Algeria on the other hand, were among a few countries expected to face weak economic expansion in 2011.
"The slow-growing economies of the region are mostly characterised by continued political instability and/or insecurity, with presumed adverse effects on investments and other drivers of growth," the report said.
The continent's performance however was not strong enough to meet poverty reduction targets.
"Persistent high levels of underemployment...as well as continued widespread malnourishment will remain concerns in the near outlook," the report said.