Poverty and inequality reduction has remained less responsive to growth successes across the continent, says AfDB African Development Report 2015

26/07/2016
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From left to right, Sipho Moyo (Chief of Staff and Director of Cabinet), Charles Lufumpa (Officer In Charge Chief Economist and Vice President), Kapil Kapoor (Acting Vice President, Sector Operations), Abebe Shimeles (Acting Director/Division Manager) and Nadège Désirée Yaméogo (Senior Research Economist)

African economies have grown substantially over the past decade, but  poverty and inequality reduction has remained less responsive to growth successes across the continent, says the 2015 edition of the African Development Bank (AfDB)'s African Development Report,  that was officially launched on 26 July 2016 at the Bank's headquarters in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire by the AfDB President Akinwumi Adesina, represented by Kapil Kapoor, Acting Vice President, Sector Operations.  The theme of this edition is on “Growth-poverty and inequality nexus: overcoming barriers to sustainable development”.

Despite earlier periods of limited growth, African economies have grown substantially over the past decade. However, poverty and inequality reduction has remained less responsive to growth successes across the continent. How does growth affect poverty and inequality? How can Africa overcome contemporary and future sustainable development challenges? This 2015 edition of the African Development Report (ADR) offers analysis, synthesis and recommendations that are relevant to these questions. The objective of the Report is to guide policy processes by contributing to the debate analysing what has happened during recent years, what has worked well, what hasn’t worked well, and what needs to be done to address further barriers to sustainable development in Africa?

Africa’s recent economic growth has not been accompanied by a real structural transformation. As a result, millions of Africans, especially women and youth, have been left behind. The Report highlights the intermediating role of various forms of inequality that limit the transformation of Africa’s growth into prosperity for all. Unequal access to economic resources and opportunities is mirrored in the continent’s high income inequality, gender gaps in earnings and opportunities, the rural-urban divide, youth under-employment and in the limited priority given to key poverty-reducing sectors like agriculture, agro-industries, and manufacturing.

In his Forward remarks, AfDB President Akinwumi Adesina says:  “I firmly believe that development is about delivering real improvements in living conditions right across society. This analysis shows that widespread inequality is limiting both growth and poverty reduction across Africa. These income disparities have remained persistently high over decades, leaving Africa one of the world’s most unequal regions.”

Sustaining recent growth successes while making future growth more inclusive requires smart policies to diversify the sources of growth and to ensure broad-based participation across segments of society. Africa needs to adopt a new development trajectory that focuses on effective structural transformation. Workers need to move from low productivity sectors to those where both productivity and earnings are higher. Key poverty-reducing sectors, such as agriculture and manufacturing, should be targeted and accorded high priority for public and private investment. Adding value to many of Africa’s primary exports may earn the continent a competitive margin in international markets, while also meeting domestic market needs, especially with regard to food security.

Apart from the need to prioritise certain sectors, other policy recommendations emanating from this Report point to the need to address income inequality, to close gender gaps, to bridge rural-urban disparities and to promote youth employment. These are consistent with the African Development Bank Group’s Ten Year Strategy (2013-2022) for spurring inclusive and increasingly green growth with its Regional Member Countries. More recently, the Bank Group’s high five priority areas focus the Bank’s actions to reach the poor much more effectively. Prioritizing the Hi5s is a clear response of the Bank to the continent major challenges.  By ensuring Africa’s growth is both sustainable and inclusive, the Bank will continue to convene support for the continent’s efforts to improve the quality of life for all Africans.