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
"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