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Thursday, September 21, 2023

Pandemic pushed 55m more Africans into poverty – ECA

Global shocks are turning millions of vulnerable people into Africa’s new poor and reversing decades of progress.

Antonio Pedro
Acting Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), Mr Antonio Pedro

Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) Acting Executive Secretary, Mr Antonio Pedro, revealed this in a statement issued on Tuesday, February 14, 2023, by ECA’s Communication Section.

Pedro explained that the COVID-19 pandemic had pushed an additional 55 million Africans below the poverty line.

He added that the impact of the war in Ukraine was also expected to further compound the challenge.

Pedro noted that even when growth rates were high in Africa, everyone did not benefit equally.

“For example, in 2022, the top 10 per cent of wage earners received about 30.69 per cent of total income,” he said.

Pedro said high inequality, along with high levels of poverty, created a vicious cycle in which structural bottlenecks persisted.

According to him, this renders the population in Africa perennially vulnerable to both economic and non-economic shocks.

“The ability of African countries to effectively tackle poverty and inequality is now severely constrained, given declining economic growth, narrowing fiscal space, rising debt, commodity shocks and tightening global financial conditions.

“The risk of missing the poverty and inequality targets set out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Agenda 2063: ‘The Africa We Want,’ of the African Union, is higher than it has ever been before,” he said.

The 55th Session of the Commission aims to renew focus and action on reducing poverty, inequality and other factors that have left the African population continuously vulnerable to these scourges.

Pedro urged that recovery efforts must be pro-poor and inclusive, with a view to fostering a new social contract that offers equal opportunity for all.

He said considerable opportunities to reach these goals existed on the continent and beyond.

According to him, they include activities carried out under the African Continental Free Trade Area, green investments, digital transformation and reforms to the global financial architecture.

High rates of growth in the past two decades have, however, resulted in reduced poverty levels in Africa.

Pedro noted that between 2000 and 2019, the share of population living in extreme poverty decreased from 53.4 per cent to 40.1 per cent, but the absolute number of poor remains high. Today, 546 million people are still living in poverty in 2022.

The 55th Session of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development (CoM2023) will be held from March 15 to 21, 2023, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The Session, a statutory meeting of the ECA, will review the state of economic and social development in Africa and progress on regional integration.

CoM 2023 will be convened under the theme, ‘Fostering recovery and transformation in Africa to reduce inequalities and vulnerabilities.’

It will be attended by African ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, representatives of member States, entities of the United Nations system, pan-African financial institutions, African academic and research institutions, development partners and intergovernmental organisations.

A preparatory meeting of the Committee of Experts of the Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development will precede the 55th Session followed by the ministerial segment of the Conference which will deliberate on the development agenda of Africa on the back of a raft of economic and political challenges facing the continent.

By Kamal Tayo Oropo

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