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Africa Progress Report 2012

“Jobs, justice and equity”

by Floreana Miesen

In brief

Children work in this gold mine in Burkina Faso

Children work in this gold mine in Burkina Faso

Africa’s strong economic growth goes along with rising inequality and marginalisation, as an annual report by the Africa Progress Panel (APP) points out. By Floreana Miesen

Africa is on the right economic track, states the panel’s recent annual document. The majority of the 54 countries concerned have braved the tough financial and economic crisis. Seven of the world’s fastest growing economies are African.

Economic progress, however, should not obscure the growing social disparities, warns the voluntary APP, which is chaired by Kofi Annan, the former UN secretary-general. The members are in favour of evening growth in view of continent’s “profound demographic change”: Africa’s population is expected to double in the next three decades.

The report bemoans that the UN Millennium Development Goals are no longer priorities for many African governments. The APP demands that policymakers should focus relentlessly on “jobs, justice and equity” to ensure sustainable growth for the benefit of all Africans.

The report identifies acute problems that require urgent action:
– African youth (15 to 24 years) must be protected from unemployment. Over the next decade, 74 million additional jobs are needed for teenagers.
– Thirty million school-age children are not getting any education so far, and as a result, it will be rather difficult to create good jobs for them in the future. The APP recommends a stronger focus on education and appropriate funding mechanisms.
– African food security depends on smallholder farmers, who need support to boost productivity. “Land grabs” which displace farmers in the wake of international speculation pose a threat African governments must rise to.
– Africa needs better representation in international organisations. To date, the continent suffers from a global order it hardly has a bearing on. According to Annan, African policymakers need to remind western donors of the true value of official development assistance (ODA): it is about investing in a shared future. Unfortunately, donors increasingly perceive ODA as “expendable budget items”, Annan states in the preface.

Floreana Miesen