Growth and poverty paradox

According to findings of a new report on economic growth and income inequality in Southern Africa, the region is grappling with high levels of inequality. Findings of a study by the Economic Commission for Africa – ECA Southern Africa, indicate a region with high levels of inequality amidst economic growth.

The preliminary report shows that ten countries in Southern Africa shows a consistent pattern of economic growth co-existing with growing levels of inequality. The findings are consistent with a 2012 study by the African Development Bank that Namibia, South Africa, Angola, Botswana, Zambia, Lesotho and Swaziland count among the continent’s top ten most unequal countries. The most striking increase in inequality is found in South Africa and the Central African Republic whose gini-coefficients have risen from 58% to 67% between 2000-2006 and from 43% to 56% between 2003-2008, respectively. Southern Africa is also found to be the most unequal region in Africa and among the worst in the world.

The ECA-United Nations Development Programme report was a subject of discussion and review at a two-day expert group meeting in June 2014 in an effort to understand the paradox of deepening poverty on the one hand and unprecedented economic growth spanning over a decade on the other. It is also noted that inequality especially in rural areas was extremely high and that inequality leads to under-investment in education. The impact of inequality of income also leads to inequality of education, which results in a workforce that is less productive.

Director of ECA Southern Africa, Said Adejumobi said that although inequality was a global problem, it had a strong African face, especially in Southern Africa. “We are here to address one of the most contemporary challenges of our times – the problem of economic growth and inequality.”

The problem of sub-Saharan Africa is one of the most inequitable regions of the world, second only to Latin America. Southern Africa takes an unenviable first place as the most inequitable region on the continent and one of the worst cases in the world. The final review and findings of the study will be published and launched in the course of 2014.

ECA External Communications and Media Relations


Author: Petunia Thulo

Thulo has a degree in B.A Communications and Honors degree in Journalism. She is currently completing her Masters degree in Management and Development from the North-West University, Potchefstroom Campus. The focus study in her Masters degree is around Corporate Social Responsibility in the Mining sector. Thulo has worked in the newsrooms for some of the Media24 Community Newspapers both in the North West Province as well as in the Western Cape Province.

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