Poverty in Africa Is Key to the Future of the ContinentA recent report published by the ONE Campaign entitled ‘The African Century‘ shows the urgent necessity of the international community to pay attention to development on the African continent. With Africa’s population set to double by 2050, the authors of the report have stated that taking action on poverty in Africa is key to future of the continent and of the globe.

Although population growth is rapid and expansive on the continent, the flow of international aid into Africa has been stagnating and decreasing in recent years. Since 2012, the three most significant forms of financing for African countries—official development assistance, domestic revenue and direct foreign investment—have been steadily decreasing; they are now at their lowest aggregate level since 2009. Since 2012, although its population has increased by 15 percent, the combined resources available for development in Africa have nominally decreased by 22 percent.

The authors of the report emphatically underline that the international community must start taking action on poverty in Africa as soon as possible. Alleviating poverty in Africa is key to the future of the continent, one which is uncertain right now and might present very serious challenges. With the population increasing to an estimated 2.5b billion by 2050, and 50 percent of them being 25 years or younger, there is a great risk of further destabilization of the region and massive waves of migration. According to estimates, by 2020 Africa’s unemployed population will equal that of Germany’s entire population, and 50 years from now that number might increase to 310 million, or half the employed population of continental Europe.

Donors who used to largely finance aid and development on the continent have been largely using aid budgets in the pursuit of short-term foreign policy interests rather than in fighting poverty. This shortsightedness might prove catastrophic. As a young population grows up in conditions of extreme poverty, conflict that resonates around the globe might be unavoidable. This is why the authors of the ONE report so emphatically claim that taking action on poverty in Africa is key to the future of the continent and the world. In its conclusion, the report calls for a renewed partnership with African countries, which include the doubling of investments in education, employment and empowerment “to support a programme of economic and policy reform across the continent”. Hopefully, the international community will heed this call and think in the long term in order to avoid catastrophe before it manifests.

Alan Garcia-Ramos

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