Africa is the only continent not on track to meet the UN millennium development goal of halving poverty by 2015 because of the impact of the global economic downturn, a UN agency said.
Abdoulie Janneh, executive secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) said the fall in economic growth has resulted in rising poverty and unemployment in many African countries.
“Last year the African economy grew by an average 1.6 percent because of the global financial crisis, lower than 2008 when we averaged 4.5 percent,” Janneh told Reuters at the African Union UNECA joint annual finance minister’s meeting in Lilongwe.
“With such growth, Africa is the only continent not on track to halve poverty by 2015.”
The UN Millennium Development Goals were agreed at a United Nations summit in 2000 and included targets to raise living standards in African and other poor countries by 2015.
Africa was thought to be largely insulated against the worst effects of the global economic crisis but saw healthy growth projections slashed due to the crisis.
“The global financial crisis has affected growth in Africa, with dire consequences for African countries to reduce poverty,” Janneh said.
“It has also compounded the impact of the recent food and fuel crisis, putting the achievement of poverty reduction at risk and jeopardising Africa’s long term economic and social development.”
He said a crucial challenge for the continent would be for it to reach the high and sustainable levels of growth that would allow Africa to substantially reduce unemployment and poverty.
Janneh said recurring conflicts, natural disasters as a result of climate change and the HIV/AIDS pandemic also continued to undermine economic growth in many African countries.
Malawi, which is chair of the African Union, is hosting the AU-ECA joint annual conference, which has the theme of promoting high-level sustainable growth to reduce unemployment in Africa.