Africa's agricultural, mining and energy resources could boost the continent's economic growth and pave the way for a breakthrough in human development, according to the African Economic Outlook 2013 released on Monday.
The report is produced annually by the African Development Bank (AfDB) Development Centre, the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the UN Development Programme (UNDP).
The continent's economic outlook for 2013 and 2014 is promising, confirming its healthy resilience to internal and external shocks and its role as a growth pole in an ailing global economy, a statement from AfDB said.
Africa's economy is projected to grow by 4.8% in 2013 and accelerate further to 5.3% in 2014.
The report shows this growth has been accompanied by insufficient poverty reduction, persisting unemployment, increased income inequalities and in some countries, deteriorating levels of health and education. "Now is the time to step up the tempo of economic transformation, so that African economies become more competitive and create more gainful jobs," say the authors of the report, adding that "widening the sources of economic activity is fundamental to meeting this challenge."
The report argues that African countries must tap into their natural resource wealth to accelerate the pace of growth and ensure the process can benefit ordinary Africans.
"Growth is not enough", said Mario Pezzini, Director at the OECD Development Centre. "African countries must provide the right conditions for turning natural resources into jobs, optimise their resource revenues through smart taxation and help investors and locals to make the most of linkages."
According to the report, four key elements are needed to achieve that objective. Firstly, African countries should create the right conditions for such a transformation to take place, including infrastructure, education and the creation of larger and more competitive markets.