By Asmau Ahmad
The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), said many African countries are struggling to meet the continent’s development goals due to the impact of severe and mutually reinforcing shocks.
Mr Adam Elhiraika, ECA’s Director, Macroeconomic Policy Division, in a statement said the continent encountered severe developmental challenges due to increased poverty, high inequality rates and lack of decent jobs.
Elhiraika said that the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ukrainian war and resultant food and energy crisis, rising inflation, debt tightening, and natural disasters were critical factors to the challenge.
The director said this while presenting an overview of recent Economic and Social Conditions in Africa at the ongoing meeting of experts.
The meeting was held to herald the 2023 Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development in Ethiopia.
According to the Report, growth in Africa dwindled from 4.6 per cent in 2021 to 3.6 per cent in 2022.
“In 2022, an additional 18 million new poor emerged in Africa, with more than half the highest proportion of the world’s poor at 54.8 per cent.
“This is alarming because 546 million people were living in poverty in 2022, which is more than half of the continent’s population,” Elhiraika said.
According to the director, women and girls remain particularly vulnerable, and the continent is facing a potential reversal of the hard-won gains made on gender equity.
He said another challenge stressed during the meeting was inequality which remained pervasive across all African sub-regions and was exceptionally high in Southern Africa.
“Among the top ten countries where wealth inequality is the highest, seven of them, South Africa, Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia, Botswana, Angola and Malawi, are in Southern Africa.
“While two are in west Africa, Guinea-Bissau, and Sao Tome.
“ECA estimates that although the economic outlook remains bleak, Africa is anticipated to grow by 3.9 per cent in 2023,” he said.
Elhiraika said the commission had cautioned that the growth might experience headwinds.
“Especially with an unfavourable external environment created by the recession in both the United States and the Eurozone and expected to weigh on commodity prices,” he said.
Fostering recovery and transformation in Africa to reduce inequalities and vulnerabilities is the theme of the ongoing meeting in Addis Ababa.
At the meeting, countries were urged to pursue pro-poor and inclusive macroeconomic policies and ensure access to affordable and innovative finance for an inclusive recovery.