High average rates of economic growth in Africa over the past two decades have failed to make an appreciable dent on inequality across the continent. Though it varies in size across the region, the chasm between the rich and poor remains widespread and entrenched. The resultant two-tracked society has dire implications for economic prosperity, social cohesion, and political stability in African countries.
A business-as-usual approach will not address all the factors driving inequality on the continent: Africa demands a revolution in analysis and approach. We must go beyond income to understand inequalities in key elements of human development such as health, education, dignity, and human rights. We must go beyond averages and analyze the various ways in which inequality plays out across an entire population, in different places and over time.
The United Nations Development Program explores these themes and provides policy recommendations to address inequality in its 2019 Human Development Report. This report analyzes persistent and cumulative disparities in human development, as well as a new generation of inequalities that are largely spurred by differential access to technology, economic opportunities, political dominance, and climate change effects in an attempt to unpack the drivers of these different trends.
On February 20, the Africa Growth Initiative at Brookings and UNDP co-hosted an event featuring a high-level panel of experts in inequality and African economic development to discuss the economic, governance, and security implications of the diverse and evolving inequalities across the continent.
After the program, the panelists answered questions from the audience.