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ABIDJAN, Côte d'Ivoire: October 12, 2017. According to a new forecast from the African Development Bank (ADB), the continent's GDP is expected to grow 3.0 percent by the end of 2017, up from 2.2 percent last year, and a further 3.7 percent in 2018.

Abebe Shimeles, ADB acting director, Macroeconomics Policy, Forecasting and Research said the data reflects a bottoming out of commodity prices since 2014; the result of steady domestic demand and public infrastructure investments; and strong export performance and higher government [tax] revenues.

RMS St. Helena"Economic diversification and drive for structural transformation need to proceed with urgency and intensity in order to avoid the repeat of boom-bust cycle in the wake of commodity price volatilities," he added.

East Africa GDP is projected to grow by 5.4 percent and 5.8 percent in 2017 and 2018, followed by North Africa at 3.1 percent and 3.6 percent respectively, while better economic performance by South Africa is expected to boost Southern Africa regional growth to 2.3 percent by 2018.

West Africa GDP is forecast to growth 2.5 percent in 2017 and 4.0 percent next year due to improved oil production in Nigeria and rising global commodity prices.

The ADB noted that Central Africa GDP was slowed in 2016 by poor performance in Equatorial Guinea and Chad that contracted -7.3 percent and -6.4 percent, followed by the Republic of Congo at -2.4 percent, while the Central Africa Republic is expected to grow 1.6 percent and 3.1 percent in 2017/2018.

On October 14 South Africa regional airline SA Airlink began a weekly scheduled service with an Embraer ERJ-190 linking Johannesburg with the British Protectorate of St. Helena for the first time.

Built at a reported cost of £285 million, the island's new airport is meant to encourage tourism but with flights limited to smaller jets because of perennial cross-winds over the runway, the increase is likely to be capped at 4,000 visitors a year unless more airlines want to risk the 1,200 mile flight that currently routes via a fuel stop at Windhoek, Namibia.

The British government plans to withdraw a regular call by the RMS St. Helena (above) in February 2018 and put the passenger/cargo vessel up for sale. With a cargo capacity of 1,800 tons - including 92 TEU - plus 156 passengers, the ship has been operating the only link between Cape Town and St Helena/Ascension Island since 1990.

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