In Spite of the Impressive Growth, Africa Still Needs to Curb Social Inequality and Create Decent Jobs

11 May 2018

Addis Ababa 11 May 2018 (ECA) - Many African countries continue to sustain development, strengthening the continent growth recovery after experiencing its lowest level in 2016.

"In 2017, Africa recorded a growth rate of 3.1 percent from 1.6 percent in 2016. This growth is forecast to rise to 3.6 percent in 2018 and 3.8 percent in 2019", said Ms Vera Songwe, Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), while speaking at the opening session of the 2018 Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development.

Globally, Africa is the second fastest-growing region after East and South Asia.

Presenting an overview of recent Economic and Social Conditions in Africa , Mr Adam Elhiraika, Director of Macroeconomic Policy Division at ECA said that Eastern Africa leads after sustaining an average annual growth rate in excess of 6 percent between 2012 and 2017, and at 5,7 percent in 2017, followed by North Africa at 4.9 percent, West Africa at 2.2 percent, Southern Africa at 1.4 percent and Central Africa at -0.1 percent.

Elhiraika says that this growth is driven mainly by an increase in investments and expenditure on infrastructure in many countries including Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania and agricultural production in Morocco and Sudan.

"We should not be complacent, our continent still needs to confront some serious developmental challenges, such as poverty and inequality rates and lack of decent jobs as well as lack of diversification and structural transformation which is important for the continent to attain the Sustainable Development Goals in 2030", cautioned Elhiraika.

Elhiraika said that Africa is the region with the second highest level of income inequality after Latin America and the Caribbean. "This reduces the effect of economic growth on social development". He also noted that the dependence on the exportation of primary commodities by African economies has intensified social inequalities, led to less employment creation and constrained poverty reduction efforts.

Elhiraika finally called on African countries to enhance domestic resource mobilization and create the fiscal space needed to foster investment and transformation growth.

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