But it warned that there was a contrast between a growing yet still relatively small middle class and the Africans left behind. Although seven out of 10 people in the region live in countries that have averaged growth of more than 4% a year for the past decade, Annan's study found that almost half of Africans were still living on incomes below the internationally accepted poverty benchmark of $1.25 a day. The "trickle-down" pattern of economic growth was leaving too many people in destitution.
"The deep, persistent and enduring inequalities in evidence across Africa have consequences," the report said. "They weaken the bonds of trust and solidarity that hold societies together. Over the long run, they will undermine economic growth, productivity and the development of markets."
Former UN secretary general Kofi Annan added: "It cannot be said often enough, that overall progress remains too slow and too uneven; that too many Africans remain caught in downward spirals of poverty, insecurity and marginalisation; that too few people benefit from the continent's growth trend and rising geo-strategic importance; that too much of Africa's enormous resource wealth remains in the hands of narrow elites and, increasingly, foreign investors without being turned into tangible benefits for its people."