What the Commission for Africa said about: Growth and Poverty Reduction

Africa is poor, ultimately, because its economy has not grown” argued the Commission for Africa. Going for Growth and Poverty Reduction, the fourth chapter of the Commission’s report, focused on how Africa can increase and sustain a higher economic growth rate and use this to reduce poverty.The Commission for Africa argued that a combination of weak infrastructure and a discouraging investment climate was holding back the continent’s growth and that changes in both governance and investment could reverse this and allow African entrepreneurship to flourish. Better support to Africa’s enterprising business people, the Commission proposed, would help accelerate growth; create employment opportunities and attract both domestic and foreign investment.

The report highlighted that African countries have their own unique path to prosperity dependent on their different drivers of growth – ranging from natural resources and agriculture, to the manufacturing and services industries. The report recommended a doubling of spending on infrastructure, the improvement of which is vital to maximising each country’s growth potential. The report stated that the investment should be spent on improving small rural roads and slums alongside regional highways and large power projects and in making African towns and cities to become hubs of productivity, industry and opportunity as well as making Africa’s land more productive by increasing by 50% the amount of arable land under irrigation.

To reduce the barriers to investment in Africa and enable a more growth-friendly climate, the report calls for both the public and private sectors to work together to develop a more favourable investment climate across the continent.

A key recommendation in the report states how the developed world can help by supporting the African Union’s NEPAD programme’s proposed Investment Climate Facility for Africa. It was proposed that this Facility focus on developing partnerships between business and government to identify and act on key obstacles to investment.

Growth will not reduce poverty if it does not create jobs and other economic opportunities. The report emphasised that all policies for growth must actively include the poorest groups and called upon African governments to develop national action plans on promoting employment for young people. It also called for an emphasis on agriculture and helping small enterprises.

Finally, the report urged all national and international programmes to recognise, identify and address the risks of climate change and to support the generation of clean energy.

Progress on these recommendations will be examined in our forthcoming report in September 2010.

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