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World Bank Report Shows Rise in Aid, Economic Growth in Africa

A new World Bank report says aid, debt relief and economic growth are on the rise in Africa. But it also warns there are continued threats to poverty alleviation. The World Bank has issued its annual report on African Development Indicators.

John Page is the bank’s chief economist for the African region. He spoke to English to Africa reporter Joe De Capua about the report’s findings.

He says, “The good news is that I think for the first time in about 20 years we can say with a reasonable degree of confidence that Africa is at a turning point…the numbers show us some very interesting patterns this year that suggest that there’s a kind of happy coincidence of the high level of political attention that’s going to Africa via the G8 summit and the Africa Commission report in the UK, the Millennium Summit and an economic turnaround. The most striking thing in the data, I think, is that there is a much greater diversity in economic performance in Africa than at any time in the last 10 to 15 years."

As for the threats to poverty alleviation, Dr. Page says, “The first and greatest threat is the lack of sustained broadly shared economic growth. As I said, we have some good news in that picture, which is that African economies are growing more rapidly, at least a significant number are growing more rapidly than they have in the past. The bad news in that story is they would have to grow more rapidly still if they were going to achieve the Millennium Development Goal of halving headcount poverty by 2015. Overall, we estimate the sub-continent south of the Sahara would need to grow at an average rate of 7 percent per year between now and 2015 to reach that Millennium Development Goal.”

He says the World Bank report on African Development indicators sends messages to G8 leaders before July’s Gleneagles Summit in Scotland. “I think it gives three messages. First, their meeting is very opportune. This is a time at which if the international community wants to investigate in Africa’s success; we believe there’s a strong basis for building on the current changes to actually achieve that success. Secondly, resources will be required. While it is true that international aid levels to Africa have increased, it is still the case that more and better aid, including aid which is more aligned with national development objectives and is administered in a way in which the development community cooperates with each other to reduce the transactions costs on countries of dealing with donors, is required. And thirdly, that both Africa countries and the development agencies, who would be part of that process, can actually achieve meaningful results in getting more countries to more of the MDGs than would have been the case if in fact the G8 will make a commitment of larger resources to Africa.”