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Last Updated: Monday, 14 May 2007, 12:36 GMT 13:36 UK
Africa 'sees 6% economic growth'
Oil pipelines in Nigeria
An appetite for oil has driven interest in Africa
African economic growth is set to reach nearly 6% in 2007, the highest in 20 years, according to the African Development Bank (AfDB).

Overseas demand from China and other rapidly-growing nations for natural resources, including oil, has been a cause for growth, the bank said.

The data was issued at the bank's annual meeting, being hosted by China.

The region's economy grew by 5.5% in 2006, with South Africa, Nigeria and Algeria among the strongest nations.

Oil-rich Nigeria saw its GDP grow by 5.3% last year and is set to expand 7% this year.

In contrast, Zimbabwe, which has been beset with soaring inflation and slowing agricultural output, shrank by some 5% during the same period.

Mauritius and Madagascar, meanwhile, have suffered in the wake of Asian textile producers.

Even as growth is set to increase, the bank's chief economist, Louis Kasekende, warned that the projected figures would not be adequate for Africa to hit its goal of halving the number of people living in extreme poverty within eight years.

To attain that goal, economic growth would have to be some 7-8% annually.

Asian growth

The AfDB event - taking place in Shanghai - comes as China has shown increasing interest in investing in Africa.

The Asian nation's appetite for raw materials has boomed as part of its breakneck economic growth.

China's Premier Wen Jiabao is expected to address the event, which is set to run to 17 May and includes 53 African states.

Topics to be discussed include education, telecommunications and infrastructure schemes.

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