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Jobs, Justice and Equity: excellent new overview of Africa's progress

May 11, 2012
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Jobs, Justice and Equity is the title of a new report published today by the Africa Progress Panel, a high powered group of ten luminaries APRcoverincluding Kofi Annan and Graca Machel. And Bob Geldof. The report does an excellent job of assessing the cup half empty v half full narratives on Africa, and has some great graphics – it should become a standard reference on the region. Here are some highlights:

“The extreme pessimism surrounding Africa a decade ago was unwarranted. So is the current wave of blinkered optimism. Real gains have been made and Africa has an unprecedented opportunity for sustained economic growth, shared prosperity and poverty reduction. However, governments are failing to convert increased wealth into opportunities and employment for their most marginalized citizens and there is a growing demand for justice and equity. Inequalities across Africa are not only ethically indefensible, they are economically inefficient and politically destabilizing.”

The report points to 5 global trends that are shaping the continent: the youth surge; agriculture and climate change; the rise of the emerging powers; science, tech and innovation and ‘the rising tide of citizen action’.

On growth: “Some of the fastest growing countries in the world are in Africa. From 2005-2009, Ethiopia recorded higher growth than China, and Uganda outperformed India. In 2011 Ghana had the highest rate of growth in the world.”

On the youth surge: “Africa’s growth has done little to alter the labour market. Agriculture still accounts for almost two thirds of all livelihoods. Even in fast-growing economies like Ghana, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda, formal sector employment has failed to keep pace with the new entrants to the workforce. Africa’s youth population will rise from 133 million at the start of the century to 246 million by 2020, requiring another 74 million jobs over the next decade simply to prevent youth unemployment from rising.”

On poverty: “While rapid growth is creating an emerging middle class, only 4 per cent of Africans have an income in excess of $10 a day. Almost half of all Africans, 386 million people, still live below the $1.25 a day poverty line. Another 30 per cent – 246 million people – live in the poverty grey area, on between$1.25 and $2.50 a day. Nevertheless Africa has begun to turn a corner in terms of poverty. For the first time in over a generation, the number of people living in poverty has fallen. Fewer children are dying before their fifth birthday and more are getting into school. But while countries across Africa are becoming richer whole sections of society have been left behind. African wealth disparities are amongst the biggest in the world and unequal access to health, education, water and sanitation is reinforcing wider inequalities.”

On food security: “The risk of food insecurity is higher in Africa than any other region. In Sub-Saharan Africa, over 200 million people are food insecure. Smallholder agriculture must be placed at the centre of a green revolution for Africa. Unlocking productivity will require new thinking, new approaches to public spending and strong political leadership. More needs to be done to stop speculators buying up large tracts of land. In the last decade Africa accounted for 948 acquisitions covering 134 million hectares – an area larger than France, Germany and the UK combined.”

On resource mobilization: “Between 2000 and 2008, ODA flows to sub-Saharan Africa increased from $12bn to $36bnper year. In contrast, the value of natural resource rents rose from $39.2bn to $240bn. If governments could increase the share of rents captured by extraction, they could reduce aid dependence and increase domestic resource mobilization dramatically. In 2011, for the first time ever aid decreased by 3 per cent to Sub-Saharan Africa. But aid continues to be a crucial tool for African development particularly in food aid, education and post-conflict areas.”

And here are two nice summary infographics – first the cup half full, then the cup half empty

APP cup half full

 

APP cup half empty

2 comments

  1. The truth is that any half empty cup is also half full, it’s not an either/or situation. If only we could always see both side by side like this so that while taking hope from the half full side we can be clear about what needs to be done on the half empty side. Thanks so much for this very valuable summary.

  2. Dear Duncan Green, thank you very much for the excellent summary; it made me curious to read the report myself. I am not quite done yet, however, I honestly became a bit irritated by some of the graphics, e.g.:
    – P.65: Conflict and Fragility. According to this chart, Liberia was affected by war in 2011.I do live in Liberia, and I don’t really see where this judgement is coming from. As I am no acinflict expert and I do not really know the conflict barometer,I just find it interesting to see – in my eyes insufficiently reflective – ranking.
    – p.70/71: Natural resources. The chart is incomplete. Unfortuantely I do not have access to the raw materials data base (as you have to pay for it) but diamonds and gold are not the only resources in Liberia. Indeed, not much many has made out of it yet (as operation just started), but the endowment is so significant that it needs to be mentioned. The chart is also not clear on WHAT exactly is presented and what the numbers stand for.
    So this is just a gentle reminder, that even if charts are very professionally and nicely layouted, take them with a pinch of salt – nothing is as simple as graphics would like to make us believe.
    Apart from that, I am very much looking forward to read the report as a whole.
    Best, Juliane

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