Annan panel calls African growth low quality
JOHANNESBURG (AP) - Africa's economies may be growing but a panel chaired by the first U.N. head from the region said Thursday there is still too much dependence on the export of raw materials and not enough trade happening between countries.
Kofi Annan's Africa Progress Panel is not the first to note the continent is rebounding better than most regions from the global recession. The International Monetary Fund predicts sub-Saharan Africa's GDP will grow by 5.5 percent this year and by 5.8 percent in 2012.
But in an assessment released Thursday in Cape Town at a World Economic Forum conference on Africa, Annan's panel calls the growth "low quality."
The panel, which includes former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, musician and activist Bob Geldof and former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, called on African leaders to ensure growth does not "remain inequitable, jobless, volatile and largely inadequate."
The panel said old patterns of relying on exporting raw materials instead of developing manufacturing were becoming entrenched even as Africans found new trade partners in nations such as China.
"To the detriment of hundreds of millions of Africans, the continent's strong economic growth has not translated into widespread job creation and poverty reduction," the report said.
It observed that many African countries won't reach a set of ambitious anti-poverty goals, known as the U.N. Millennium Development Goals, by 2015.
The panel said African governments need to do more to create regional markets, which would benefit from economies of scale and attract investors.
The report said Africa is struggling "to achieve social progress against a backdrop of rapid population growth, increasing urbanization and poor management of its human and natural resources."
Annan served as U.N. secretary-general from 1997 to 2006. His panel, based in Switzerland, regularly reviews Africa's progress in fighting poverty, securing peace and stability, and addressing continent-wide challenges.