Monday, April 22, 2013

Africa's capitalist boom - No silver lining

Sub-Saharan Africa is set to grow by 5.6 percent this year, according to latest figures from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), with 18 countries hitting at least six percent. Yet the continent’s boom has failed in recent years to significantly dent poverty levels, economists say.

Africa’s oil and mining, telecommunications, banking and retail are all flourishing, construction is booming and private investment inflows surging. But the continent’s poor are still not riding the wave.
“More than a decade of strong economic growth has reduced poverty in sub-Saharan Africa – but not by enough,” said the World Bank last week. Growth has been less poverty-reducing than elsewhere in the world; and despite the faster growth in resource-rich countries, levels of poverty are falling at a slower rate , it said. More than a third of the world’s extreme poor still live in sub-Saharan Africa. And it is still the only region in the world where the number of poor people rose “steadily and dramatically” between 1981 and 2010. “Higher economic growth does not automatically translate into higher poverty reduction,” states the report.

“The poverty rate is not going down at the same rate that the growth rate is going up,” said Soren Ambrose, economist of anti-poverty group ActionAid in Nairobi. “The mining companies were given attractive deals: those companies come in and do their business and as a result the growth rates are up.” But, he added: “Not much remains, the amount that is left in the country is not so much.”

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