Africa's rich natural resources offer a unique opportunity for a breakthrough in improving the lives of Africa's citizens, says a major new report launched today by Kofi Annan, the former UN Secretary-General, but too often these resources are plundered by corrupt officials and foreign investors. Rising inequalityis also blocking Africa from seizing that opportunity, the report shows.
The 2014 Africa Progress Panel report, Grain, Fish, Money: Financing Africa's green and blue revolutions, calls on Africa's political leaders to take concrete measures now to reduce inequality by investing in agriculture. It also demands international action to end what it describes as the plunder of Africa's timber and fisheries.
"After more than a decade of growth, there is plenty to celebrate," Mr Annan will say when he releases the report. "But it is time to ask why so much growth has done so little to lift people out of poverty - and why so much of Africa's resource wealth is squandered through corrupt practices and unscrupulous investment activities."
"Africa is a continent of great wealth so why is Africa's share of global malnutrition and child deaths rising so fast? The answer is that inequality is weakening the link between economic growth and improvements in wellbeing," he said.
Although average income has risen by one-third in the past decade, there are more Africans living in poverty now - around 415 million - than at the end of the 1990s. New global development goals are likely to aim to eradicate poverty by 2030 - but on current trends, one African in five will still be in poverty when that deadline arrives.
Kofi Annan, who played a central role in shaping the Millennium Development Goals, says: "When countries sign up to the new global development framework, they should pledge not only to ambitious targets but also to narrow the region's indefensible gaps between rich and poor, urban and rural, and men and women."
Photograph: Denis Balibouse/Reuters