Africa: Navigating the grey scale

25 May 2015 by Abdoulaye Mar Dieye, Assistant Administrator and Director, Regional Bureau for Africa

woman working with fabric in BurundiTo transform economic growth into shared prosperity, African countries must boost employment creation. Photo: Aude Rossignol/UNDP Burundi
The recent news out of Africa offers a mix of optimism and gloom, defying simple theories that the continent is either rising or hopeless. What is missing in either of these narratives is the admission that development involves a process of ebb and flow, full of progress and setbacks. On that grey scale, economic growth can lead to increased levels of inequality and even co-exist with political instability and conflict. When this reality is taken into account, the question becomes not whether a country is growing but how to make the transition from economic growth to a situation of shared prosperity and stability. Breakthroughs are possible, and they can lead to marked improvements in the lives of ordinary women and men. Take Mauritius. The island nation has transformed itself from a poor sugar producer into a diversified, modern economy that exports textiles and excels at providing international financial services to the rest of the world. Ethiopia is another example. Over the past three decades, the country became one of Africa’s fastest-growing, non-energy economies and its exports have diversified to include leather goods, agricultural products and textiles. The government is investing massively to transform its agriculture, climate-proof the economy and eliminate child … Read more

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