Poverty, Inequality and Lack of Productive Jobs Remain Africa’s Greatest Challenges: ECA

Addis Ababa Though poverty, inequality and lack of productive jobs are declining steadily in Africa, they still remain the greatest challenges, Economic Commission for Africa Employment and Social Protection Section Chief Sarah Sinha said.

This was revealed at a two-day Expert Group Meeting (EGM) and Policy Forum on Poverty, Inequality and Jobs in Africa aimed at examining the inter-linkages among poverty, inequality, and employment in Africa today.

According to Sinha, the strong economic growth witnessed in many countries across Africa in recent years has only had a marginal impact on poverty.

Poverty in Africa since 1990 has declined much more slowly than in other regions in the world, he noted, adding that the poverty headcount ratio declined from 54.3 percent in 1990 to 41 percent in 2013. In absolute terms, the number of people in extreme poverty is stagnating at the 2002 level.

Addressing the experts, Social Development Policy Division (SDPD) Director Thokozile Ruzvidzo said economic growth delivers less poverty reduction when initial inequality is high. So to reduce poverty rapidly, we need to keep inequality in check.

She further stated that inequitable access to quality education and health across income groups, gender and location often leads to lack of social and economic opportunities in life, excluding the same individuals from development and participation in society at a later stage in the life cycle.

Africa is the world's second most inequitable region after Latin America and the Caribbean, which may explain the slow rate of poverty reduction on the continent as high inequality hampers the poverty-reducing effects of growth, Ruzvidzo elaborated.

Despite strong economic growth on the continent since the early 2000s, there are few 'good' jobs, which offer secure employment and social protection, and an estimated 268 million people � nearly 63 percent of all those with jobs � -were in vulnerable employment in 2016.

There was a broad consensus among the experts at the meeting that one-size-fits-all policy interventions cannot be a panacea to the challenges of poverty, inequality, and unemployment in Africa, according to press release of Economic Commission for Africa.

They also emphasized that policies should be contextual while taking into account the political economies of different countries and their institutional capacities.

The meeting is being held at the conclusion of the ECA 2015-2018 project which was implemented in two pilot countries, Tanzania and Cote d'Ivoire, to address key constraints of limited national capacities to analyze and measure inequality in all its dimensions.

The project is aimed to promote equality as a key driver of sustainable development and strengthen selected countries capacities to conceptualize, design and implement multidisciplinary public policies oriented towards greater socio-economic equality.

The meeting has reportedly brought together policy practitioners, academicians, senior researchers, representatives of civil society and governments.

Source: Ethiopian News Agency

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