African Officials Worry Economic Uncertainty Poses Great Risk

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The Africa Progress Panel warns if African nations fail to generate equitable growth, they could face grave consequences. The International Monetary Fund expects economic growth in Sub-Saharan African by 5.5 percent, up from 5 percent in 2011. Despite this, officials are wary.

“Africa is on its way to become a preferred investment destination, a potential pole of growth, and a place of immense innovation and creativity,” said former UN secretary-general and chairman of the panel Kofi Annan. “But there is also a long way to go—and Africa’s governments must turn their attention to those who are being left behind.”

Annan believes if some people are left behind, it will affect the continent’s overall growth. Although 70 percent of Africans are living in countries with a growth of at least four percent, their progress is hindered in other areas because of the prevalence of problems in areas like health and education. “Disparities in basic life-chances—for health, education and participation in society—are preventing millions of Africans from realizing their potential, holding back social and economic progress in the process,” said Annan.

According to a report by the African Progress Panel, a lack of sufficient equitable growth “could result in a demographic disaster marked by rising levels of youth unemployment, social dislocation.”

Africa’s youth population is steadily rising and experts worry that this demographic shift could cause issues with unemployment. The youth population is expected to rise from 133 million to 246 million by 2020, meaning there would have to be 74 million jobs added to keep unemployment numbers down.

Other issues that concern officials include “renewed financial stresses in the Euro zone and the possibility of a surge in oil prices, triggered by geopolitical uncertainties,” according to Antoinette Sayeh, African department director for the IMF. “This broadly favorable outlook is subject to clear downside risks because of global uncertainties,” said Sayeh.

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