JOHANNESBURG, The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has revised downwards its economic growth forecasts for South Africa for 2018 and 2019, citing rising political uncertainty in the country, which the IMF says is weighing on confidence and investment.

It projects that the country’s economy will grow by 0.9 per cent over the next two years, down from a projection of 1.1 per cent in 2018, and 1.6 per cent in 2019.

The IMF notes that the numbers pre-date the most recent developments in the country, which include the election of Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa as president of the African National Congress (ANC), the country’s ruling party, succeeding President Jacob Zuma, who sedond consecutive term as party president has ended.

According to some foreign media reports, Ramaphosa is expected to adopt more business-friendly policies and his election as ANC leader helped boost the rand by 10 per cent in late December.

Meanwhile, the IMF has projected that growth in sub-Saharan Africa is expected to pick up to 3.3 per cent in 2018 from 2.7 per cent in 2017. The IMF says global growth will accelerate to its fastest pace in seven years as the United States tax cuts boost investment in the world’s biggest economy.

The Fund has raised its forecast for global growth to 3.9 per cent in 2018 and 2019.

Meanwhile, IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde has warned that most people living in emerging countries have been left behind in the current global economic recovery.

Presenting the IMF’s Economic Outlook at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, Lagarde said shared growth could only thrive through training displaced workers and providing new opportunities for youth and vulnerable workers.

We need new opportunities for workers at risk and young people and women. Sharing is about global responsibilities; we need robust international co-operation if we are to tackle a problem that includes fighting corruption, improving the international trading system, tackling tax evasion and addressing tax evasion issues.

Meanwhile politicians, business leaders and members of academia are discussing the state of the world at the Swiss ski resort at the annual Spring meeting of the WEF this week.