The 2012 Africa Progress Report launched on the 11th of May, 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 marginalisation 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 child nutrition, child survival, maternal health, and education.
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.
On 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.
The 2012 Africa Progress Report is the fifth annual report produced by the Africa Progress Panel, a group chaired by former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan, whose members include Michel Camdessus, Bob Geldof, Olusegun Obasanjo, Graça Machel, Robert Rubin, and Muhammad Yunus.
The report can be downloaded here