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AfricaMoney | October 18, 2017

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Africa suffers as inequality breeds amid high economic growth

Africa suffers as inequality breeds amid high economic growth

The number of hungry Africans grew from 175 million to 239 million between 2010 and 2012, with approximately 20 million added in the last few years. (Image: The Guardian)

Poverty remains an unsolved issue for Africa as hundreds of millions of Africans are still left without food and extreme poverty continues to be felt by a large section of the population, even as economic growth in Sub-Saharan Africa continues its rapid ascent.

The number of hungry Africans grew from 175 million to 239 million between 2010 and 2012, with approximately 20 million added in the last few years. The declining share of agriculture in GDP has been pinpointed as an important reason for increase in extreme poverty.

Recently, the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) launched its inaugural report on the state of African agriculture. The report states that, on an average, about 65% of Africa’s labor force is employed in agriculture, yet the sector accounts for about 32% of GDP, reflecting relatively low productivity.

Compared to other sectors, the agricultural sector is different, according to recent studies undertaken by UNEP and International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). The impact on poverty gap might increase five times if the agricultural per-capita GDP knows an increase of one per cent and it will not be similar for other sectors.

Other studies have shown that for every 10 percent increase in farm yields, there was 7 percent reduction in poverty in Africa.

Also, lack of vocational educational avenues is also another factor spurring unemployment, especially among the youth.

Taking the case of the otherwise well-developed economy of Kenya, only seven per cent of 800,000 young people join the job market annually with a decent wage paying job.

Also, the East African emerging economy counts less than 15 per cent of 14.3 million people engaged in the modern, formal sector of the economy such as agribusiness, services and industry.

It is critical that parents in Africa have a better view for their children by investing in high quality early childhood education which encourages and nurtures creative instincts of children, rather than the current system which privileges memorization and regurgitation.

Secondary school system must put the emphasis on learning to learn, vocational and tertiary education must produce problem solvers who are capable of complex reasoning, lifelong learners and creative innovators.

Nonetheless, there are a lot of creative and talented kids who cannot afford to pay for university and because of this, the African school system is portrayed as a failure.

All in all, the challenges faced by Africa nowadays, youth unemployment and grinding rural poverty, need to be solved in order to achieve inclusive and socially sustainable economic growth.

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