Africa Progress Report 2012

Jobs, Justice and Equity

For many of Africa’s people, rapid growth and rising wealth has failed to translate into better lives. The Africa Progress Report 2012 looks at three of the most critical ingredients for transforming a promising economic upturn into a sustained recovery and lasting human development – jobs, justice and equity.

Africa’s economies are consistently growing faster than those of almost any other region – and at twice the rate of the 1990s. For the first time in over a generation, the number of people living in poverty has fallen. Fewer children are dying before their fifth birthday and more are getting into school. Democracy is growing deeper roots. Governance standards are improving.

Yet there is another side to the balance sheet. Countries across Africa are becoming richer but whole sections of society are being left behind. After a decade of buoyant growth, almost half of Africans still live on less than $1.25 a day. Wealth disparities are increasingly visible. The current pattern of trickle-down growth is leaving too many people in poverty, too many children hungry and too many young people without jobs. Unequal access to health, education, water and sanitation is reinforcing wider inequalities. Smallholder agriculture has not been part of the growth surge, leaving rural populations trapped in poverty and vulnerability.

The deep, persistent and enduring inequalities in evidence across Africa have consequences. They weaken the bonds of trust and solidarity that hold societies together. Over the long run, they will undermine economic growth, productivity and the development of markets.

The Africa Progress Report 2012 highlights jobs because livelihoods play such a fundamental role in people’s life-chances – and because Africa urgently needs to create jobs for a growing youth population. It highlights justice and equity because they are missing from the lives of too many Africans, making the present growth socially unsustainable.

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Africa Progress Report 2012


Africa has an unprecedented opportunity to set a course for sustained economic growth, shared prosperity and a breakthrough in poverty reduction. But this journey will not happen without determined action and crucial changes to make growth much more equitable.

In the world’s economic growth league, Africa has moved to the premier division. Africa’s overall record on development, however, does not match its economic growth. Most African countries will fail to reach most Millennium Development Goal targets because they are being held back by deeply entrenched inequalities.

The challenge is to harness economic growth to a more equitable distribution of opportunity and income by mobilizing revenues from growth towards the basic services and economic infrastructure that offer poor people greater opportunities. Governments across Africa must also develop more employment-intensive patterns of growth with higher levels of skills and productivity.

Africa’s governments and their development partners should initiate as a matter of urgency a “big push” towards the MDGs. Many donors have failed to honour their part of the MDG pledge. While the global partnerships on health have delivered results, other critical areas, such as water, sanitation and education, have faced problems in mobilizing support.




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