This paper examines the overall economic growth effect when the growth in finance and real sector is disproportionate relying on panel data for 29 sub–Saharan African countries over the period 1980–2014. Results from the system generalized method of moments (GMM) reveal that, while financial development supports economic growth, the extent to which finance helps growth depends crucially on the simultaneous growth of real and financial sectors. The elasticity of growth to changes in either size of the real sector or financial sector is higher under balanced sectoral growth. We also show that rapid and unbridled credit growth comes at a huge cost to economic growth with consequences stemming from financing of risky and unsustainable investments coupled with superfluous consumption fueling inflation. However, the pass–through excess finance–economic growth effect via the investment channel is stronger.