New report says that African leaders must deliver on jobs, justice and equity to turn Africa’s population boom into a demographic dividend
14 May 2012, Nairobi – The 2012 Africa Progress Report, launched today by the Africa Progress Panel, warns that Africa’s strong economic growth trajectory – which will see the region increase the pace of growth well beyond 5 per cent over the next two years – is at risk because of rising inequality and the marginalization of whole sections of society.
Kofi Annan, Chair of the Africa Progress Panel, states in the report that, “Disparities in basic life-chances – for health, education and participation in society – are preventing millions of Africans from realizing their potential, holding back social and economic progress in the process.”
The report notes that Africa has seven of the world’s fastest-growing economies, with 70% of Africa’s population living in countries that have averaged economic growth rates in excess of 4 per cent over the past decade. However, the report also records that most countries are not on track to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015, flagging slow progress in areas such as malnutrition, child survival, maternal health, and education.
A snapshot of Kenya’s progress is illustrative of the mixed balance sheet highlighted in the report; in spite of the country’s strong economic growth, inequality levels in Kenya still rank among the highest in the continent (the richest 10 per cent of the population control almost 40 per cent of the wealth).
The need for equitable growth is all the more critical, the report states, because of Africa’s “profound demographic shift”, which will see the continent’s population double in three decades, and continue to rise into the second half of the twenty first century. The report highlights that today there are 70 million more Africans aged under 14 than there were a decade ago. Over the next decade that number will rise by another 76 million.
The report calls for a “relentless focus” by policymakers on jobs, justice and equity to ensure sustainable, shared growth that benefits all Africans. Failure to generate equitable growth could result in “a demographic disaster marked by rising levels of youth employment, social dislocation and hunger.” Africa’s governments and development partners must urgently draw up plans for a big push towards the 2015 Millennium Development Goals, the report says.
The Panel’s report identifies a range of challenges demanding urgent action on the part of governments, including:
Youth employment: Africa’s youth population (15-24 year olds) will rise from 133 million at the start of the century to 246 million by 2020 – requiring another 74 million jobs over the next decade simply to prevent youth unemployment from rising. The report sets out an agenda for raising skills and generating rural jobs through off-farm employment.
Smallholder agriculture: In the absence of a concerted effort to raise the productivity of smallholder agriculture, the report cautions that Africa will remain vulnerable to food security crisis. It identifies ‘land grabs’ by foreign investors and speculators as a major threat and urges African government to consider stronger regulation.
Education: The report calls for urgent action to tackle what it describes as a ‘twin crisis’ in access and learning. With 30 million children out of school and many of those in school failing to master basic literacy, Africa is ill-equipped to generate jobs and take its place in a knowledge-based global economy. The report calls for a strengthened focus on education and the creation of appropriate funding mechanisms.
Global economic governance and aid: The report notes that Africa still has a weak voice in areas - such as trade, finance and development assistance – that have a critical bearing on its citizens. The report adds that aid remains vitally important and that African governments and development partners must deliver on their commitments in a transparent and accountable way.
Caroline Kende-Robb, Executive Director of the Africa Progress Panel, says: “Africa is rising and African economies are growing faster than those of almost any other region in the world. However, the current pattern of trickle-down growth is not benefitting enough people. Indeed, benefits measured by poverty reduction, maternal health and childhood survival fall far short of what Africans have a right to expect. The report calls for renewed focus on jobs, justice and equity to ensure that Africa’s impressive economic growth is translated into shared growth for all Africans.”
Kofi Annan says: “The overall message of this year’s report is positive. Africa is on its way to becoming a preferred investment destination, a potential pole of global growth, and a place of immense innovation and creativity. But there is also a long way to go – and Africa’s governments must as a matter of urgency turn their attention to those who are being left behind. I believe Africa and its leaders can rise to this challenge. If they do, Africa will become more prosperous, stable and equitable. This is a prize which we all, wherever we live, will share.”
For more information on the Africa Progress Report 2012: Jobs, Justice and Equity, and to download the report, please visit: www.africaprogresspanel.org/apr2012
The 2012 Africa Progress Panel Report will be launched in Nairobi on Monday 14th of May 2012,
at the Intercontinental Hotel from 0730 Hrs to 1000 Hrs.
More information on the launch kindly contact Mwaura Kaara: Email: Mwaura.Kaara@undp.org - Telephone: 020 7625672 - Mobile: 0720 89 53 54.
The APP is on Facebook: Africa Progress Panel; on Twitter: @africaprogress and #APR2012; on YouTube: Africaprogresspanel1. Please visit www.africaprogresspanel.org/apr2012 for more information on the report and the press conference.
Download the Pdf. of the press release here.