Friday, June 04, 2010

Determining who is to blame for Africa's poverty

Last week, Kofi Annan made headlines by calling out political leaders in Africa, saying that they lack the political will to improve development in their states. The critique was within a new report from the Africa Progress Council, of which Annan is leader.

In the APC's new African Progress Report 2010, they first say that economic growth has been great within the continent, but they point out that growth has been uneven. The economic growth has benefited some states more than others, and so far has helped a few people rather than most. The uneven growth will prevent Africa from meeting some of the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.

From the Guardian, writer Eliza Anyangwe has this analysis of the report. In her piece, she shows how the report tries to answer just who is to blame for Africa's poverty.

"Why does progress on achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) remain so low, so uneven? Why do the absolute and relative numbers of people living in poverty remain so high? Why do so many people face food and nutrition, joblessness and minimal access to basic services such as energy, clean water, healthcare and education? Why are so many women marginalised and disenfranchised? And why is inequality increasing?" Annan asked in the forward to the report.

He concluded that the root causes of Africa's problems were a lack of political will and the inability of the continent's leaders to use revenues to benefit the people.

"Responsibility for driving equitable growth and for investing in achievement of the MDG targets rests firmly with Africa's political leaders," Annan added.

It's not the first time this sentiment has been expressed, but will Annan's words and the central message of this report have more impact because of who they are being directly aimed at? This report is written with African leaders - in government, business and civil society – very much in mind.

Support for development and Africa's economic success have both been hit by the economic crisis. The crisis, says the report, "highlighted a number of worrisome trends... such as growing inequality, setbacks in achieving MDGs, vulnerability... concerns that economic contraction squeezes out commitment to human development". In the downturn, the need for good governance to mitigate the damage becomes essential and Africa leaders have been shown to be wanting.

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