Africa's growth jeopardised by rising inequality



Africa's impressive growth during the financial and economic crisis of the last five years will be put at risk unless action is taken to combat rising inequality, according to the annual health check on the continent from a panel led by the former UN secretary general Kofi Annan.

The report from the Africa Progress Panel found that African countries were growing consistently faster than almost any other region, with booming exports and more foreign investment.

But it warned that there was a contrast between a growing yet still relatively small middle class and the Africans left behind after a decade of buoyant activity.

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.

Ghana was the fastest growing economy in the world in 2011 and Ethiopia expanded more quickly than China in the five years to 2009, according to the report, but it added that the current 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."


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