Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Unequal Africa

The greater portion of wealth in Africa remains in the hands of a few elites is the conclusion of the 2012 Africa Progress Report, titled “Jobs, Justice and Equity”

386 million people on the continent survive on less than US$1.25 a day and the continent accounts for a rising share of global poverty despite its commendable economic growth in recent years, reads the report. In Nigeria, the most populous country in Africa, as well as in Mozambique and Burundi, more than 60 percent of young people are said to work in jobs, which pay less than US$1.25 a day.

When Africa’s growth started to pick up in 1999, the continent accounted for 21 percent of the world’s poverty but by 2008 that share had risen to 29 percent.

This is contrary to conventional economic wisdom that economic growth is the answer to poverty and inequality.

“The main reason for the high poverty rate is not slow economic growth but high inequality,” the report says. "Governments are failing to convert the rising tide of wealth into opportunities for their more marginalised citizens. Unequal access to health, education, water and sanitation is reinforcing wider inequalities.

Using the Gini index, the globally accepted measure of inequality which captures concentration of household income or expenditure (the higher the index, the greater the inequality), there are 24 African countries where the index is higher than 42. The Gini indices for Mozambique, Kenya and Zambia are between 45 and 55, while in Botswana and South Africa the figures are over 60. South Africa is often referred to as the “most unequal society” in the world.


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