Investment in Quality Education Would Break the Poverty Chain: AfDB President

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Africa must invest in quality education in order to stop children from inheriting poverty from generation to generation, African Development Bank President Donald Kaberuka told leaders gathered in Kigali, Rwanda, on Tuesday, October 30, during the opening day of the seventh Africa Economic Conference.

“This is how you stop children from inheriting living conditions of debt, and once you do that you have stopped the transmission of poverty,” said Kaberuka, during the opening session that focused on a critical analysis of the drivers of growth in the face of global uncertainty.

Speaking under the conference theme “Inclusive and Sustainable Development in an Age of Economic Uncertainty”, Kaberuka emphasized that Africa should step outside of the box and question the parables of economic growth that will lead to economic transformation translating into the creation of jobs and other benefits.

“It’s possible to register growth in GDP even in double digits, record millions in exports, but have 60 per cent living under a dollar per day,” he said.

After 2009 global crisis, rich countries are still concentrating on their own immediate problems and there is less appetite for the multinational solutions, which Africa needs. In this context, Kaberuka underscored the need for long-term solutions. He suggested that Africa’s growth should include researching solutions on how African countries could internally finance their development, and learn from what has gone wrong globally to redesign their policies.

Helen Clark, the Administrator of United Nations Development Programme, said the conference provides a forum for dialogue around the ideas, evidence and policies available to advance inclusive and sustainable development in the uncertain times in which we live.  

Africa, like all regions, is affected by the current sluggish global growth and by climatic extremes. Its poorest people are affected the most.

According to Clark, achieving inclusive and sustainable growth, which advances human development within the boundaries of our planet, is a huge challenge.

“Investing in youth potential and the skills needed to drive agriculture and the manufacturing, processing, services, and logistics sectors will reap huge benefits,” she said.

Human development should be at the forefront of Africa’s priorities, the speakers agreed. Experts stressed that the recovery from 2008-2009 remains feeble in the United States and other developed countries, with many countries in Europe being ravaged by a severe debt crisis.

After a strong rebound in 2010, the world economy slowed in 2011 owing to increased risks and uncertainties that are expected to remain through 2012 and beyond.

“In spite of this, the African continent has registered a decade of economic growth and there is optimism that the prospects are even better in the coming years,” said H.E Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda, during the official opening.

After a decade of strong growth and improvements in poverty levels, an overarching challenge facing the continent is how to sustain and even accelerate progress in this era of economic uncertainty.

The African Economic Conference is an annual event co-organized by the African Development Bank, UNDP and the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA). The event runs from October 30 to November 2.