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A game changer in Africa’s development discourse

 

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1. Light up & power Africa

Over 640 million Africans have no access to energy, corresponding to an electricity access rate for African countries at just over 40 percent, the lowest in the world. Per capita consumption of energy in sub-Saharan Africa (excluding South Africa) is 180 kWh, compared to 13,000 kWh per capita in the United States and 6,500 kWh in Europe.

Access to energy is crucial not only for the attainment of health and education outcomes, but also for reducing the cost of doing business and for unlocking economic potential and creating jobs. Insufficient energy access manifests itself in hundreds of thousands of deaths annually due to the use of wood-burning stoves for cooking; handicaps the operations of hospitals and emergency services; compromises educational attainment; and drives up the cost of doing business.  Energy access for all is therefore one of the key drivers of inclusive growth as it creates opportunities for women, youths, children both in urban and rural areas.

The aspirational goal of this priority area is to help the continent achieve universal electricity access by 2025 with a strong focus on encouraging clean and renewable energy solutions. 

2. Feed Africa

Access to food – in quantity and quality – is a fundamental human right. It is also essential for ending hunger and malnutrition, and ensuring a healthier and productive workforce. Although agriculture employs over 60 percent of the African workforce and accounts for roughly a third of the continent’s GDP, Africa is the most food-insecure region in the world with more than 232 million under-nourished people, or approximately one in four.

Structural food insecurity is a particular challenge in fragile economies, which are disproportionately susceptible to resource and commodity price shocks and where poor agriculture infrastructure, governance and weak institutions result in low productivity and a heavy dependence on food imports. Women face systematic discrimination across the continent, for example in terms of land ownership, which severely limits their opportunities to benefit from agricultural value chains. This is further multiplied by women’s unequal access to inputs, household decision making, education, finance, and markets. FAO estimates that closing the gender gap could increase farm yields by 20-30%, and there is wide-spread evidence that closing the gender gap within households has wide-spread benefits for families.

3. Industrialize Africa

Africa is at the bottom of the global value chain with its share of global manufacturing at around only 1.9 percent. African economies still rely too heavily on raw commodities; between 2011-2013 manufactured goods made up only 18.5 percent of exports, while 62 percent of total imports were manufactured goods, a commercial imbalance that drains wealth away from the continent. This situation is even worse in countries where a combination of structural constraints and political instability jeopardize any effort for private sector-led economic diversification and transformation. Consequently, most countries have not created the jobs necessary to absorb the significant number of youth, compelling hundreds of thousands to migrate overseas.

To unleash their full potential, African countries must embark on a bold agenda driven by private sector-led investments in industrial transformation.

4. Integrate Africa

Africa is at the bottom of the global value chain with its share of global manufacturing at around only 1.9 percent. African economies still rely too heavily on raw commodities; between 2011-2013 manufactured goods made up only 18.5 percent of exports, while 62 percent of total imports were manufactured goods, a commercial imbalance that drains wealth away from the continent. This situation is even worse in countries where a combination of structural constraints and political instability jeopardize any effort for private sector-led economic diversification and transformation. Consequently, most countries have not created the jobs necessary to absorb the significant number of youth, compelling hundreds of thousands to migrate overseas.

To unleash their full potential, African countries must embark on a bold agenda driven by private sector-led investments in industrial transformation.

5. Improve the quality of life for the people of Africa

Despite the encouraging economic development enjoyed by many African countries during the last decade, many of them are still characterized by widespread poverty and inequality. Health and education outcomes are among the lowest in the world and the continent’s population has insufficient access to sanitation and safe drinking water.

Weak institutions make it difficult, especially in fragile economies, to deal with calamities such as the recent Ebola crisis or the serious drought that is impacting several countries in 2016. Unemployment and underemployment of youth and women endanger social cohesion and inclusive development. These coupled with the mixed effects of limited access to quality education, health, nutrition, technology and innovation are impediments to accelerating Africa’s growth and entry into higher value-added areas of production and competitiveness. Failure to tackle these issues could deprive a whole generation of Africans the opportunities to develop their potential, escape poverty and support the continent’s trajectory toward inclusive growth and economic transformation.

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