VOL. NO: 48      DATE:
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World Bank Report

Ghana’s former president Flt. Lt. J.J. Rawlings prays for Africa

Many African countries, including Senegal, Mozambique, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Uganda, Ghana and Cape Verde, have lifted significant percentages of their citizens above the poverty line, and may be on course to meeting the income poverty Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target of halving poverty by 2010, according to a World Bank report released last week. Launched at World Bank headquarters in Washington and simultaneously in five African countries, African Development Indicators 2006 reveals a broad range of indicators, where some countries made remarkable progress, some stagnated, and others fell seriously behind. But, while economic results varied greatly, the continent as a whole demonstrated real progress in better health, education, growth, trade, and poverty-reduction outcomes. Africa’s per capita income is now increasing on a par with other developing countries. 

ADI 2006 confirms that 16 African countries have sustained annual GDP growth rates in excess of 4.5 percent since the mid- 1990s. In addition, inflation on the continent is down to historic lows, most exchange rate distortions have been eliminated, and fiscal deficits are dropping. The continent weathered higher oil prices better than previous shocks, and its real GDP grew by 4.3 percent, compared to 5.4 percent in 2004. 

Also in the good news column, primary enrollment rates have risen significantly across the continent, HIV/AIDS prevalence and child mortality rates have started to fall, and the gender gap has started to shrink in several countries. 

The growth spectrum stretches from Zimbabwe, which recorded a negative growth rate of 2.4 percent ? the only country with a negative growth rate in 2004 on the continent — to Equatorial Guinea, which recorded a 20.9 percent growth rate. Despite the progress, ADI 2006 details the many challenges facing the continent. Africa is still the one region of the world where the number of the poor continues to rise. The continent, which received a mere 1.6 percent of global foreign direct investments (US$10.1 billion), is home to six of the 10 countries with the most difficult environment for starting a business. And African firms still struggle to enter the global marketplace, hampered by inadequate roads, inefficient ports, and power outages. 

The report also warns of the immense burdens from the staggering rates of HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis, and points to the threats to development caused by corruption, anemic aid, trade barriers, and dwindling foreign direct investments. Drawn from the World Bank Africa Database, ADI 2006 provides the most detailed collection of development data on Africa in one volume covering the period 1980- 2004. The data is drawn from all 53 African countries and 20 regional country groups for more than 1,200 indicators of macroeconomic, sectoral, and human development variables.


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