NAIROBI, Kenya — The 10-member Africa Progress Panel, a group set up in 2008, has published its latest annual report warning that the continent's economic gains are threatened by growing inequality.
Africa weathered the economic storms of recent years better than other regions and is growing at over 5 percent according to the International Monetary Fund. But speaking at the launch of the Africa Progress Report 2012 at the World Economic Forum Africa in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said: "The strong
economic growth in Africa is at risk due to rising inequality marginalizing large sections of our society."
In the introduction to the report, titled "Jobs, Justice and Equity", Annan writes:
"It cannot be said often enough, that overall progress remains too slow and too uneven; that too many Africans remain caught in downward spirals of poverty, insecurity and marginalization; that too few people benefit from the continent’s growth trend and rising geo-strategic importance; that too much of Africa’s enormous resource wealth remains in the hands of narrow elites and, increasingly, foreign investors without being turned into tangible benefits for its people. When assessing nations, we tend to focus too much on political stability and economic growth at the expense of social development, rule of law and respect for human rights.
"We ... are convinced that the time has come to rethink Africa’s development path. Not all inequalities are unjust, but the levels of inequality across much of Africa are unjustified and profoundly unfair."
This is a truth apparent to even the most casual and blinkered visitor to the continent, let alone those who live here.