African economic growth is heading back to pre-crisis growth levels, propelled by strong demand for its resources and increased South-South investment, notably from China.

Mthuli Ncube, chief economist at the African Development Bank (AfDB), said on Thursday the world's poorest continent would see gross domestic product growth of 6.0 percent this year and, potentially, between 6.2 and 6.5 percent in 2012.

The AfDB will not give its formal economic forecasts for 2012 for a few more months. But Ncube said it was clear African economies were picking up and were on track to hit the peak growth levels of more than 6 percent seen before 2009.

The resources side is still holding up nicely for now, as well as the diversified economies like Ethiopia, he told reporters at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Sub-Saharan countries including Ethiopia, Angola and Rwanda boast some of the world's fastest-growing economies.

A strong rebound led by demand for the continent's commodities means 2011 is already on course to grow more rapidly than originally expected, following a recovery from the low of just 2.9 percent growth seen in 2009.

Ncube said economic activity would vary across different regions, with East Africa set to show the highest rate of growth in 2011, while South Africa was expected to record a much more modest advance of around 3 or 3-1/2 percent.

Unrest in Tunisia and Egypt also means the outlook for North Africa is now more uncertain.

China has stepped up its investment in Africa in recent years, largely in the hunt for resources, and has injected badly needed capital into infrastructure, Ncube said.

But the Chinese are not alone, with companies from both India and Brazil also more aggressive at pursuing opportunities in Africa than in the past.