African Development Bank’s President, Akinwumi Adesina has called on African economies to stop focusing on economic growth, rather than ensuring that this growth filters down to the lower people.
Adesina noted with concern yesterday that while Africa’s economies are growing strongly, growth alone cannot meet the needs of the continent’s poorest citizens.
“Nobody eats GDP,” said the ADB boss, while unveiling the 2020 African Economic Outlook (AEO).
Many African leaders including Uganda have ridden on their glowing economic growth trends, to justify their interventions and build political muscle.
President Yoweri Museveni last year said Uganda’s annual growth of 6.1% could soon hit double digits once the country’s oil starts flowing.
But the ADP report launched yesterday showed that while Africa’s economies are growing well, higher than the global average, these figures do not tell the whole story.
Across the continent, the report shows, the poor are not seeing enough of the benefits of robust growth.
Relatively few African countries posted significant declines in extreme poverty and inequality, which remain higher than in other regions of the world.
Inclusive growth occurred in only 18 of 48 African countries with data, the report revealed.
“Growth must be visible,” said Adesina.
“Growth must be equitable. Growth must be felt in the lives of people.”
The ADB flagship report states that increased investments in education is key as well as progressive universalism in education spending—setting high priorities for the poor and disadvantaged and focusing on basic education first where social returns are highest.
Its recommendations include improving access to education in remote areas, incentives such as free uniforms and textbooks, banning child labor and improving teaching standards.