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Rising inequality, marginalization risk Africa’s economic growth – Report

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MarketAfrica’s strong economic growth trajectory which will see the region increase the pace of growth well beyond 5% over the next two years is at risk due to rising inequality and the marginalisation of whole sections of society, according to the 2012 Africa Progress Report released May 11, 2012.

The report launched by the Africa Progress Panel which is chaired by Ghana’s Kofi Annan, says African leaders must deliver on jobs, justice and equity to turn Africa’s population boom into a demographic dividend and avoid “disaster”.

Mr Kofi Annan, in his foreward, stated 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.”

Despite Africa having seven of the world’s fastest-growing economies, the report noted that most countries are not on track to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015 as efforts have been slow in areas of child nutrition, child survival, maternal health, and education.

The report argues that there must be a need for a critical equitable growth 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 Panel’s report identified a range of challenges demanding urgent action on the part of governments.

It indicated that 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.

In the absence of a concerted effort to raise the productivity of smallholder agriculture, the report cautioned that Africa will remain vulnerable to food security crises as it identified ‘land grabs’ by foreign investors and speculators as a major threat. African governments were, therefore, urged to consider stronger regulation to curb the situation.

By Ekow Quandzie

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