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Saturday, January 10, 2015

Nigeria’s former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo

By Dele Ogbodo 
Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Tanzania and Ethiopia currently account for about 413 million people living below poverty line in Africa. This is about half of the continent’s population.
The disclosure was contained in the 2014 Africa Progress Panel Report (APPR), released during the week. The panel which has 10 board members is currently chaired by the former Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN), Kofi Annan. Nigeria’s former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, is also on the board.
The report stated:  "More than 413 million people still live below the poverty line. Just four countries: Nigeria, DRC, Tanzania, and Ethiopia, account for half of Africa’s poor."
While acknowledging that Africa remains one of the world’s fastest growing regions in the world, it said: "In the past decade and a half, the only global region to grow consistently faster than Sub-Saharan Africa has been developing Asia. Africa’s average incomes have risen by a third."
Oil, gas, and minerals, it added, have been driving much of this growth in countries such as Sierra Leone, Ghana, and Mozambique. But non-extractive sectors including agriculture have been key in countries such as Cote d’Ivoire, Rwanda, and Ethiopia.
However despite the impressive and robust population growth, too few people are benefitting from the continent’s natural resources, adding that inequality was on the upward growth.
The way out of the poverty menace, the report advised was for African governments to focus on agriculture to reduce poverty, a sector that supports two thirds of all African people. "Africa could feed itself but instead it imports food worth $35 billion per year." the Report explained.
APP said: "Food production in Sub-Saharan Africa is falling behind. It now exports less than Thailand."
However, it said Africa’s applied technology innovations showed African creativity when given the right opportunity.
"Developed by Africans for Africa and the world, this digital and mobile technology is accelerating Africa’s productivity growth.
Indeed Africa’s agricultural productivity could easily double within five years." It also added.
The Report further stated:  "Urbanisation, hunger, and the heavy cost of food import bills mean that Africa must produce more food.
"Global population is set to grow from 7.2 billion to 9.6 billion by 2050. Urban populations will grow even faster. Global food demand is expected to double. This is an excellent commercial opportunity for African agriculture."
The 2014 Report urged African governments to invest more in their agricultural sectors, which directly affects two thirds of Africa’s population. It however stressed that Zambia, Liberia, and Mozambique show that time, effort, and money can produce impressive agricultural growth, adding that growing the sectors can drive national growth.
"Illegal logging costs the continent an estimated $17 billion every year, while, illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing costs West Africa alone a conservatively estimated $1.3 billion every year.
"Foreign boats are not just taking fish, they are stealing food, jobs, and income”, APPR asserted.
Africa has been losing an estimated 5.7 percent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) an equivalent of $50 billion, to illicit financial flows, which is more than the continent spends on health.
Source: http://www.thisdaylive.com/articles/nigeria-3-others-account-for-half-of-africa-s-poor-says-report/198796/