Africa needs more coherent development strategies and that prioritizes the improvement of public policies to face the challenges of growth, employment and inequalities caused by the remarkable growth of the continent, according to the first edition of this new joint report of the Development Center of the OECD and the African Union Commission (CUA).
Dynamics of the Development of Africa 2018, the first annual economic report of the African Union Commission since its creation in 1963, was published a few months ago and today the Director of the OECD Development Center, Mario Pezzini, he presented it yesterday in Madrid at the CEOE headquarters, in an event that was attended by Marta Blanco, President of CEOE International; José Segura, General Director of Casa África; Cristina Serrano, Director of International Economic Relations, and Raimundo Robredo, Director General of Africa – both of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation -; Y Paulo da Silva, Dean of the Group of African Ambassadors accredited in Spain, and which closed Manuel Escudero, Permanent Representative of Spain to the OECD and current President of the Governing Board of the Development Center of the OECD.
At the opening ceremony, Marta Blanco highlighted the extraordinary relationship that CEOE has with Casa Africa and the importance that the African continent has for the CEOE, for a long time. In this regard, he pointed out the role played by the more than 1,600 Spanish companies in that continent, a presence that is not very numerous but that has a driving force to increase its number considerably in the coming years.
She also indicated the remarkable role of women in economic and social activity and that acts such as today will help to increase knowledge and strategic vision in the medium and long term. Finally, he stressed that in Africa there are a significant number of countries that have a 5% growth and that of the 10 countries in the world with the highest growth are 6 Africans.
On the other hand, the report concludes that a favorable trend of commodity prices, strong domestic demand, progress in the application of macroeconomic policies and strategies to diversify national economies have been the main drivers of the continent's recent growth, which is expected to reach 4% per year between 2018 and 2020. The decision of some countries to increase investment in infrastructure and the growing number of trade associations – with China, India and other emerging countries – have also been successful.
Since the beginning of the century, Africa has ranked second after Asia in the ranking of the fastest growing regions of the world, with an average annual growth of gross domestic product (GDP) of 4.7% between 2000 and 2017. However, This level of growth has been insufficient to trigger fundamental changes. The report focuses on "growth, employment and inequalities" and highlights the importance of accelerating the structural transformation of African economies. Growth remains uneven; between 2016 and 2020, only three of the 55 countries of the continent should reach the annual average growth target of more than 7% established in the 2063 Program of the African Union.
In addition, this growth has not created enough decent jobs, since, currently, 282 million people work in unstable jobs. At the current rate, 66% of jobs will remain unsafe by 2022, a figure much higher than the 41% predicted for 2023. In turn, the population of Africa is increasing rapidly: a quarter of the world's population will be African in 2050. The report also draws attention to the need to increase productivity. African companies are behind the rest of the world in sectors with a high potential for job creation, such as agro-industry, construction, light manufacturing and logistics services.
Likewise, growth in Africa has less impact than in other parts of the world in reducing inequalities and improving well-being. If the Gini coefficient of the continent had fallen seven more points, to 35 – the same level as in Asia – growth would have lifted another 130 million people out of poverty between 1990 and 2016. Although it has been reduced, Extreme poverty continues to affect 35% of the African population, that is, 395 million people.
The report also reveals the uneven results of the different African regions in terms of growth, employment and inequalities:
– East africa it has enjoyed stronger and more resilient economic growth than the other regions, more than 4% per year since 1990, thanks to a more diversified economy.
– In Central Africa, the number of jobs in the formal economy has been decreasing since 2015.
– East and West Africa they managed to reduce extreme poverty by 23 and 12 percentage points, respectively, between 1990 and 2013.
– Inequality in Africa is more prevalent in the Southern Africa, which, in terms of income, contains six of the ten most unequal countries in the world.
The report emphasizes that Public policies are the key to improving the results in terms of growth, employment and inequalities. National strategies are more effective when they promote good intersectoral coordination of government action, active participation of economic agents and citizens, and take into account a regional approach to development.
At the presentation ceremony, the Director General of Casa África, José Segura, stressed the importance of Spanish entrepreneurs accessing this type of macroeconomic reports "as the best way to break down stereotypes." In addition, in the case of this report, he stressed that it has been developed jointly with the African Union Commission, something vitally important to know how Africans make their own diagnoses and point to the solutions needed to respond to this great challenge of which the report speaks: the creation of quality employment as a bet to end inequalities.