ADDIS ABABA, ETHIPOIA – While the southern African region has been hailed as the most “open to trade” in the continent, it has once again been identified as the most unequal region in Africa.
Africa’s Development Dynamics 2018, which was released on Wednesday at AU’s headquarters in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa, indicated mixed performances of different African regions in terms of growth, jobs and inequalities
The report published and released by the African Union (AU) and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Center state that the southern African, which Botswana is part of is still characterised by high levels of income inequality, with the region being home to six of the world’s top ten unequal countries.
According to the African Union’s Abuja Treaty of 1991, Southern Africa comprises ten countries: Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The report says neighbouring South Africa, which is generally regarded as ‘big brother’, had the world’s highest Gini coefficient (63), and followed by Namibia (61), Botswana (61), Zambia (57), Lesotho (54) and Swaziland (52). The inter-decile ratios show a similar structure with South Africa, Botswana and Lesotho, in that order, having the highest gaps between the top and bottom income deciles, implying that these countries have the greatest inequality in the region. Angola and Mozambique have the lowest gaps, as well as the lowest Gini coefficients, hence the lowest inequality in the region.
The report complied with the help of national statistics agencies such as Statistics Botswana indicate that while Southern Africa performs relatively better than other African regions, gender inequality remains a significant hurdle.
“Unemployment rates for female workers are generally higher than for male workers, even among the youth, and the gap between male and female labour force participation remains wide. Social spending and decent growth have helped reduce extreme poverty, but the extreme poverty headcount in the region remains at 35.6 percent”, reads part of the report.
The report, among other things, revealed that favourable trend in commodities prices, strong domestic demand, progress in the pursuit of macroeconomic policies and strategies to diversify national economies have been major drivers of the continent’s recent growth, which is forecast to reach 4 percent annually between 2018 and 2020.