Economic growth alone not enough to face Africa’s emerging challenges, UN Development Chief

Mar 18, 2015

Some 30 African countries aim to reach “emerging” status in their national development strategies. Photo: UNDP in Ethiopia

Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire – Africa has recorded impressive economic growth over the last decade, its ability to address emerging challenges will be strengthened by investing in citizens’ health, education and participation in society, said the UN’s development chief today in Abidjan, the capital of Cote d’Ivoire.

“There are many reasons to be optimistic about Africa”, said United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator Helen Clark. “Steadily increasing revenues have created more opportunities to transform economies and societies, clearing the way for an emergent Africa. The goal of emergence must also embrace the pursuit of greater wellbeing.”

Helen Clark was speaking at the opening of the “International Conference on the Emergence of Africa”, organized by the Ivorian government in association with UNDP, and with the support of the World Bank and the African Development Bank.

It brings together global and regional leaders, experts, and researchers on inclusive social and economic development from around the world; to share lessons learned and challenges in order to support strategies and policies on emergence.

The Abidjan conference comes against the backdrop of increased momentum on the continent towards emergence. Some thirty African countries have included the aim of reaching “emerging” or “emerging country” status in their national development strategies. This is also in line with the African Union’s Agenda 2063, that provides a pathway to ensure positive socio-economic transformation within the next 50 years, focused on a more peaceful and prosperous continent.

The African Development Bank projects that, by 2050, an “emergent Africa” would have tripled the continent’s share of global GDP, enabling 1.4 billion Africans to be part of a middle class, and reducing tenfold the number of people living in extreme poverty.

“These are exciting prospects,” said Helen Clark. “An “emergent Africa” will ensure that all Africans have the opportunities they need to improve their lives.”

She outlined a number of concrete steps leaders could take, including to reduce inequalities, harness the potential of youth, improve livelihoods, maintain ecosystems, and reduce the drivers of conflict and instability.

“Africa has the leadership and it has the vision necessary for emergence,” she concluded. “With a commitment to inclusive and sustainable growth and governance, a commitment to arrest environmental degradation and build resilience to shocks, with a drive for greater equality and harnessing the full potential of women, youth and indeed of all Africans, emergence will happen. Human and sustainable development will be the winner.”

Contact information

Abidjan: 

Romain Desclous, UNDP Communications Specialist, romain.desclous@undp.org, +225 4640 6152

Sandra Macharia, UNDP Communications Advisor, sandra.macharia@undp.org +225 7853 6656 

New York: 

Christina LoNigro, Christina.lonigro@undp.org, +1 917 607 9446.

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