Addressing the media during a visit to Nigeria’s commercial hub of Lagos, Marcelo Giugale, World Bank Director of Economic Policy and Poverty Reduction Programmes for Africa, was asked if the continent was growing fast enough to fight dire poverty.
“The short answer is ‘No’. It’s not enough to reduce poverty, not by enough,” he said, adding that the reasons were complex and varied.
The IMF this month revised down its growth forecasts for Africa in 2012 to 5.4 percent, lower than previous forecasts.
Africa’s growth has remained above 5 percent in the last eight years, underpinned by strong prices for its natural resources, better governance and growing disposable incomes, but poverty is not falling anywhere near as fast.
“We have specific targets that are in reach. Child mortality has fallen fast in many countries. But at the same time, poverty is going down very slowly,” Giugale said.
The World Bank estimated on its website in March that the percentage of poor Africans fell from 58 percent in 1999 to 47.5 percent in 2008, a decline of about one percentage point a year.
“You certainly need much more than the GDP numbers going up. The translation from growth to employment is complex: It depends on labour market, skills, infrastructure, the quality of the business environment. Growth can be very fast and you still don’t see poverty reduction,” Giugale said.