Saturday, March 6, 2021

World Economic Forum on Africa 2015: Chronicles of Inequality

Last week Africa fell on the world’s radar at the World Economic Forum, which drew African leaders from different spheres to debate on the continent’s growth and development. One of the issues under discussion was that of inclusive growth, a hot subject that features prominently in discussions about Africa.

A briefing on inclusive growth included speakers such as Edward Ndopu (Regional Activism and Youth Coordinator (Africa) of Amnesty International) and Winnie Byanyima (Executive Director, Oxfam International).

“Inclusion is not negotiable, it is a moral and political imperative,” said Ndopu. He articulated five demands which young people see as befitting of an Africa that they want to be part of.

A mobile Africa which opens its borders and adopts progressive migration policies

An on-line Africa which promotes and protects the right of information

An Ethical and Transparent Africa which strengthens and regulates illicit financial flows and corporate tax avoidance

An Non-disposable Africa which promotes and strengthens regulation of large scale land acquisition

An imaginative Africa which promotes and protects the Arts

“Inequality is not the unfortunate price of strong economic growth, it’s actually bad for growth,” said Byanyima. She vehemently argued that the idea that inequality is an inevitable consequence of growth and development in Africa must be challenged. This is especially important, she said, given that only 80 people in the world have the same combined wealth as the 3.5 billion poorest. The Word Bank as she quoted found that 10 richest Africans own the same as the poorest half of the continent (500 million people).

Byanyima disclosed that Oxfam research pointedly cites that Africa was cheated out of $11 billion in 2010 through what is called trade mispricing, which she said is one of the tricks used by Multinationals to reduce their tax bills. She lamented that the $11 billion is equivalent to more than six times the amount of money that would be needed to provide primary health care to the four countries that were hard hit by Ebola.

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