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.
By 2035, Cameroon aspires to join the ranks of industrialized, upper-middle-income nations with low poverty rates, strong economic growth, and a functioning democracy. To realize that goal, the government’s strategy (Document de Stratégie pour la Croissance et l’Emploi, DSCE) envisions annual GDP growth rates of 5.5 percent and the creation tens of thousands of formal jobs each year. With a relatively more diversified economy than its more oil-dependent peers in the CEMAC region, the country seemed well-poised to achieve its objectives until at least halfway through the decade. However, Cameroon has been facing a combination of external headwinds and internal constraints that present challenges to its development aspirations, poverty remains high at 37.5 percent (in 2014).
Following the change of political leadership early in 2018, South Africa was gripped by a wave of optimism. Analysts raised their growth forecasts for the year significantly (Figure 1). At the World Bank, we were more cautious, warning in our 11th South Africa Economic Update that South Africa’s growth challenges were deep-seated and structural and would take considerable policy action and time before translating into higher growth. Nevertheless, we too raised our forecast, to 1.4% for the year. Although this made our forecast one of the most pessimistic among South African observers, we were wrong: we were too optimistic! Like other economists, we now expect growth for 2018 to have averaged less than 1%.
- sustainable development goals
- Gambia, The
- South Sudan
- South Africa
- Sierra Leone
- Sao Tome and Principe
- Egypt, Arab Republic of
- Cote d'Ivoire
- Cabo Verde
- Burkina Faso
In the Africa Chief Economist’s Office, we seek to generate knowledge on key development issues around the continent. We also host the Gender Innovation Lab, which – as the name suggests – specifically generates evidence on how to close the gender gap in Africa. Over the course of 2018, we’ve produced a range of products (regional reports and updates), but we also produce academic articles and book chapters seeking to answer key, specific development questions.
Last month, I attended the International Family Planning Conference in Kigali, Rwanda, where policymakers from across the world gathered to strategize about ways to achieve a demographic dividend—the increase in gross domestic product (GDP) per capita that comes from having a young and productive labor force driving economic growth that is faster than population growth. I was heartened to be joined by ministers of finance and representatives of the highest levels of government, all of whom agreed that women’s empowerment–which centrally includes access to reproductive health services–-is essential for inclusive, sustainable growth.
The Ghana government’s new Coordinated Program strives to create opportunities for all Ghanaians; safeguard the natural environment and ensure that it is resilient; deepen governance to fight corruption and enhance public accountability to maintain a stable, unified, and peaceful Ghana; and create a competitive business environment to build a strong and resilient economy.
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.