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Steady Growth Will Help Africa Realize Goals

Steady growth will help Africa realize UN Millennium Goals, says World Bank

A new report released by the World Bank shows that many African economies are experiencing the faster and steadier growth needed to reduce poverty, one of the eight ambitious targets known as the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that the world has pledged to try to achieve by 2015.

"After years of stop-and-start results, many African economies appear to be growing at the fast and steady rates needed to put a dent on the region's high poverty rate and attract global investment," the Bank said upon the release of its Africa Development Indicators 2007.

The new report, released in Johannesburg today, reveals that growth in Africa has averaged 5.4 per cent over the past 10 years, which is on par with the rest of the world.

"The ability to support, sustain, and in fact diversify the sources of these growth indicators would be critical not only to Africa's capacity to meet the MDGs, but also to becoming an exciting investment destination for global capital," said the Bank's Vice President for the Africa Region, Obiageli Ezekwesili.

The report finds solid economic performance across the continent in the period from 1995 to 2005, which contrasts with the economic collapse of 1975-1985 and the stagnation of 1985-1995.

It also shows that performance among countries varied greatly with 2005 growth rates ranging from 30.8 per cent in Equatorial Guinea to a decrease of 2.2 per cent in troubled Zimbabwe. Nine countries had growth rates near or above 7 per cent, the minimum needed for sustained poverty reduction.

"Africa has learnt to trade more effectively with the rest of the world, to rely more on the private sector, and to avoid the very serious collapses in economic growth that characterized the 1970s, 1980s and even the early 1990s," John Page, Chief Economist for the Africa Region, said concerning the report's findings.

While the report cited significant long-term gains for sub-Saharan economies, it warned that the region remains volatile - a condition that has dampened investment. "Avoiding growth collapses is key to accelerating progress toward the MDGs in Africa," Mr. Page stated.

The report is based on more than 1,000 indicators covering economic, human and private-sector development, governance, environment, and aid.


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