South Sudan became independent in 2011 after a prolonged conflict. Although the new country was blessed with international good will, considerable foreign aid, and vast oil wealth, it nevertheless faced formidable development challenges, with 51% of the population living poverty. Soon after independence, the country encountered successive crises, which resulted in a large-scale conflict combined with a severe macroeconomic crisis.
Kenya has been covered widely in economic news over the last decade, from the first large-scale application of mobile money to a vibrant technology hub in Africa. Indeed, Kenya experienced robust economic growth from 2005-06 to 2015-16, growing at an average annual rate of 5.3%, higher than the average in Sub-Saharan Africa. This growth translated into gains in the fight to reduce poverty, with about 4.5 million Kenyans escaping poverty. Poverty measured under the national poverty line declined from 46.8% to 36.1% of the population. However, a closer look shows that not every segment of the population benefited from this impressive growth.
Few countries can match Cabo Verde’s development progress over the past quarter of a century. Its Gross National Income per capita (GNI) grew six-fold. Extreme poverty fell by two-thirds from 30% in 2001 (when poverty measurement began) to 10% in 2015 (see first chart) which translates into an annual poverty reduction rate of 3.6%, outperforming any other African country during this period. Non-monetary poverty also dropped fast (see second chart). In many ways, Cabo Verde is a development star, and these achievements were made despite the disadvantage it faces as a small island economy in the middle of the Atlantic.
The impact of growth on poverty in Ghana has slowed substantially over the years. Ghana’s largest fall in poverty, 2% a year, was experienced during 1991–1998. Between 2012 and 2016, the poverty rate declined by only 0.2% per year. The growth elasticity of poverty (percentage reduction in poverty for each percentage point in economic growth) has decreased, from −1.18 between 1992 and 1998 to −0.07 between 2012 and 2016. This may reflect the declining contribution of agriculture, in which the majority of poor households are engaged, the limited job opportunities for higher productivity in the services sector, and a largely capital-intensive industrial development.
Ghana is a politically, economically, ethnically and demographically diverse country. The origins of economic and social inequality between the north and south of Ghana are largely due to geography and historical legacies of inequality established in colonial times. Still, the country had and has been successful in preventing tensions and conflicts, in part because Ghanaian government has maintained ethno-regional balances in representation.
With nearly half of the population (or approximately 8 million people) living in extreme poverty, Burkina Faso is poised to make inroads in the long and challenging journey to achieve the World Bank Group's overarching twin goals: ending extreme poverty in 2030 and boosting shared prosperity. Every fiscal year since 2015, the Bank has committed more than 300 million dollars of IDA resources in support of development projects in Burkina Faso. The World Bank has also provided a set of timely analytical and advisory services to inform national development strategies and policies in the country.
Six years after independence, South Sudan remains one of the world’s most fragile states, unable to emerge from cycles of violence. About half the population—that is, about 6 million of 12 million people—are food insecure. A famine was declared in February 2017. And though the famine was contained (thanks to massive humanitarian support), food insecurity remains at extremely high levels.
About 2 million South Sudanese have fled the country and another 1.9 million are internally displaced. The economy is estimated to have contracted by 11 percent in the past fiscal year, due to conflict, low oil production, and disruptions to agriculture. The fiscal deficit, inflation, and parallel market premium have all soared.
This macroeconomic collapse has crushed the livelihoods of many South Sudanese.
Natural disasters—such as droughts, floods, landslides, and storms—are a regular occurrence, but climate change is increasing the frequency and intensity of such weather-related hazards. Since 1970, Africa has experienced more than 2,000 natural disasters, with just under half taking place in the last decade. During this time, natural disasters have affected over 460 million people and resulted in more than 880,000 casualties. In addition, it is estimated that by 2030, up to 118 million extremely poor people (living below $1.25/day) will be exposed to drought, floods, and extreme heat in Africa. In areas of recurrent disasters, this hampers growth and makes it harder for the poor to escape poverty.
Most parents in Africa will tell you that their children’s education is the most important investment they can make. Over the past decade, great progress has been made in terms of getting children into school, with countries such as Benin, Cameroon, Rwanda and Zambia recording primary net enrollment of over 90 percent. But across the continent, primary school completion and youth literacy rates remain unacceptably low.