News / Africa

Despite Wealth of Resources, Africa Lags Economically

Mthuli Ncube, chief economist and vice president of the African Development Bank, speaks during session of the World Economic Forum on Africa, Cape Town, May 9, 2013.Mthuli Ncube, chief economist and vice president of the African Development Bank, speaks during session of the World Economic Forum on Africa, Cape Town, May 9, 2013.
x
Mthuli Ncube, chief economist and vice president of the African Development Bank, speaks during session of the World Economic Forum on Africa, Cape Town, May 9, 2013.
Mthuli Ncube, chief economist and vice president of the African Development Bank, speaks during session of the World Economic Forum on Africa, Cape Town, May 9, 2013.
Anita Powell
“Delivering on Africa’s Promise” is this theme of this year’s World Economic Forum on Africa in Cape Town, where some 1,000 delegates from business, government and non-government organizations gathered to discuss how to improve upon the continent’s recent economic growth.
 
But according to this year’s Africa Competitiveness Report, whose release annually coincides with the three-day summit, that promise is far from being met.
 
Researched in collaboration with The World Bank and the African Development Bank, the World Economic Forum report ranks Africa as the lowest-performing region in the world; fourteen out of twenty of the world’s least competitive economies are African — a dismal record considering the continent’s resource wealth and large labor pool.
 
Despite some economic progress, however, analysts such as Tomas Sales of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) say the continent’s recent gains still leave something to be desired, and that African economies still lag too far behind the rest of the world.
 
“Over the last 15 years, give or take, it’s been growing over 5 percent. Even this year, it’s projected to grow 5.3 [percent], or something around that. But the question is: Is this growth also benefiting people?" said Sales. "Simultaneously, with the fast growth we see growing inequality, exclusion, and disparity. And this is a matter of concern because, you know, everybody says, ‘Look, we see the growth. This is not inclusive growth. We don’t see the benefits spreading around.'"
 
To that end, the UNDP is reaching out not just to governments, but to African businessmen. The agency recommends that businesses of all sizes seize upon Africa’s greatest asset: its people.
 
“There have been a lot of changes, lots of reforms, lots of changes within Africa from the government level," said Sales. "But the question is at the micro level. We haven’t seen that much transformation yet. Companies, for instance, should get involved directly with low-income people. They should help them as part of the value chain, as producers, consumers, entrepreneurs, employers. This is the definition of inclusive business.”
 
Another reason Africa is lagging, however, is its lack of infrastructure, which is partly a legacy of colonialism, and, more recently, poor governance and planning. On Friday, the forum released a report detailing a plan to accelerate infrastructure and increase integration between African countries.
 
Some experts acknowledge that things are getting better. Sub-Saharan Africa has seen significant economic growth, and progress has been made in efforts to reduce the plight of the continent’s poor.
 
South Africa remains the continent’s economic leader, according to the World Economic Forum report. The nation recently became the newest member of BRICs, a group of emerging economies comprising Brazil, Russia, India and China.
 
Domestically, researchers recently noted a boom in the South Africa’s black middle class, which has more than doubled to more than 4.2 million people.
 
But that good news comes against a dismal backdrop. The latest government figures put the nation’s unemployed at 4.6 million people — more than 25 percent of South Africa's work force.

You May Like

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Pete from: Mexico City
May 11, 2013 11:05 AM
You have to take account the educational and cultural level of the people who live in the continent. War, genocide, hunger, disease, etc. don't make you competitive. China is going to take the prize.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festivali
X
April 24, 2015 4:09 AM
Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Keeping Washington Airspace Safe Is Tall Order

Being the home of all three branches of the U.S. federal government makes Washington, D.C. the prime target for those who want to make their messages and ideas heard. Unfortunately, many of them choose to deliver them in unorthodox ways, including from the air, as a recent incident clearly showed involving a gyrocopter landing on the Capitol’s West Lawn. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.
Video

Video Hope, Prayer Enter Fight Against S. Africa Xenophobia

South Africa has been swept by disturbing attacks on foreign nationals. Some blame the attacks on a legacy of colonialism, while others say the economy is to blame. Whatever the cause, ordinary South Africans - and South African residents from around the world - say they're praying for the siege of violence to end. Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.

VOA Blogs