Global macroeconomic conditions were positive during 2017, supporting increased trade volumes and underpinning global growth of 3.7% for the year. Economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa rebounded from 1.4% in 2016 to 2.7% in 2017, underpinned by improving commodity prices and trade. Across many of Standard Bank’s key countries inflation began to ease, stemming interest rate hikes and, in certain countries, providing scope for rate cuts in the second half of the year. Although exchange rates largely stabilised in the second half, many were weaker year on year against the strengthening Rand.
The recovery in the West Africa region was supported by higher oil prices and production volumes, together with higher business and consumer confidence levels. East Africa started to emerge from the drought. The South & Central Africa region was supported by improved commodity prices, but countries immediately surrounding South Africa continued to feel the effects of low South African demand.