FACTBOX-Africa and the global crisis. Who suffers most?

March 11 (Reuters) - Below are some indications as to which of the bigger sub-Saharan African economies may suffer most and those that could fare best amid the global financial crisis.

SOUTH AFRICA - Africa's biggest economy looks set to dip into its first recession for 17 years after shrinking by 1.8 percent in Q4 of 2008, the first contraction for a decade. The Treasury has forecast growth of 1.2 percent for 2009, which prices in a recovery in the world economy in the second half of 2009. Exports in January collapsed 25 percent compared with the previous month, mainly due to sharp falls for vehicles and precious metals. Manufacturing output is also contracting. The government plans to spend over $75 billion over three years to upgrade infrastructure and try to boost growth, but there are questions over how easily it will be able to fund that. Relatively high interest rates offer scope for a boost from looser monetary policy. Standard & Poor's and Fitch cut the outlook for South Africa's investment-grade rating to negative from stable late last year.

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO - The collapse in commodity prices has been catastrophic for Congo, still trying to recover from years of war. High metals prices brought a scramble for mining concessions in recent years, including many smaller firms, but now only the biggest miners in Congo are well placed to weather the troubles. Congo has almost no foreign reserves to help withstand the impact -- they fell to just $36 million in early February. Its franc has lost well over 20 percent of its value since late last year, and the country is seeking more than $420 million in grants and loans from international donors to help shore up its finances.

ZAMBIA - Zambia has been hard hit by the falling price of copper, which accounts for around 80 percent of exports, after being buoyed by soaring metals prices in recent years. Growth is officially still forecast at 5 percent in 2009, but Zambia's renewed efforts to diversify its economy came too late to prevent the shock from the copper price collapse. Its currency has fallen almost 40 percent against the dollar since July 2008.

BOTSWANA - Botswana is suffering because of the fall in prices for diamonds, which account for 40 percent of state revenue. Debswana, a joint venture between the government and De Beers, announced in February it was shutting down operations for two months, and would suspend production at two of its mines for the rest of the year. Standard & Poor's cut its ratings outlook to negative last month. It plans to run a large budget deficit to help boost growth, spending from reserves that stood at $9.2 billion in Nov. 2008.

MAURITIUS - Long a star performer, Mauritius' vital textile and tourism sectors are being badly squeezed. Latest growth estimates have been around 2 percent. Last December, the government unveiled a $330 million stimulus package to boost growth and the central bank governor has said it is time to consider a second package.

NIGERIA - The outlook in Africa's most populous nation has been clouded by falling prices for energy exports on which the government relies for over 80 percent of revenue. The naira has fallen about 20 percent since the start of December. The budget foresees an increase in spending that will take the deficit to at least 3 percent of gross domestic product. Growth has been forecast at 8 to 9 percent, but continued low oil prices through 2009 could reduce that rate. Efforts to defend the currency and capital markets, such as the reimposition of currency controls, have raised concerns over where Nigeria is headed. Despite the slowdown, however, foreign exchange reserves of nearly $50 billion put Nigeria in a much better position to withstand the crisis than during past oil price dips.

ANGOLA - Tumbling world prices have slashed oil revenues and will end years of double-digit growth, but Angola still does not foresee recession. It was able to accumulate nearly $19 billion in foreign reserves last year, something of a cushion. Although oil production has been cut to 1.6 million barrels per day from 1.9 million, in line with OPEC measures, it is still over 75 percent more than when civil war ended in 2002.

KENYA - Kenya's official growth forecast of 4-4.5 percent in 2009 is higher than for 2008, when it fell to 2-2.5 percent because of post-election violence as well as global factors. But analysts say the official forecasts are optimistic. The global crisis is likely to hit earnings from tourism and horticultural exports while east Africa's biggest economy is also suffering from drought. It is seeking a $100 million IMF loan to cushion its currency from the global downturn.

TANZANIA - Tanzania's growth is likely to suffer as a result of a drop in tourism earnings, but it is still forecasting growth of 5-6 percent in 2009. That is down from an earlier forecast of 8 percent. Mining and agriculture are its other big revenue earners.

UGANDA - According to the IMF, the economy looks set to remain one of Africa's fastest growing. Official forecasts are for 7-7.5 percent growth. Much of the growth reflects the discovery of oil in the west of Uganda, which has boosted investor interest in the east African nation, but it is not expected to start producing before at least 2010.

GHANA - Ghana's advantage is that the commodities it produces -- gold and cocoa -- have held up better than most since the global economic crisis hit. It is Africa's second biggest producer of both and is also due to start pumping oil in 2010. But a pre-election spending binge by the previous government means the new administration has little choice but to cut costs. Nonetheless, growth is forecast at 5.9 percent in 2009 from a provisional 6.2 percent last year. Ghana had one of the world's best performing stock markets in 2008 but partly because of low liquidity. It has fallen steadily since October and the cedi currency has lost more than 30 percent versus the dollar in the past year.

IVORY COAST - Prices for Ivory Coast's main export, cocoa, have held up fairly well amid the global crisis, but that is partly because of a poor crop in the world's top producer after unfavourable weather and years of underinvestment. The IMF's growth projection is 3.5 percent. Ivory Coast is still struggling to overcome the effects of a 2002-2003 war. Elections have been repeatedly postponed, but if held could lead to more instability.

ZIMBABWE - Zimbabwe was already plumbing the depths so has a lot of potential upside. The currency is almost worthless, food and fuel are scarce, mining output has followed agricultural production into the slump. The jury is still out on whether the new power-sharing government between President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai will work and attract foreign aid and investment. The global crisis could also reduce the amount of outside funding available. But if the new government works, Zimbabwe might be placed to grow faster than anywhere.

Sources: Reuters/IMF (For full Reuters Africa coverage and to have your say on the top issues, visit:


Writing by David Cutler in London, Dan Wallis in Nairobi, Gordon Bell in Johannesburg, Alistair Thomson in Dakar, Randy Fabi in Abuja; Editing by Ron Askew