Sub-Saharan Africa : Prosperity is Growing yet still below World Average
Africa’s prosperity is growing yet still below world average … and the gap between best and worst performing countries remains significant
The Prosperity Index records a large variation across Sub-Saharan Africa, from South Africa and Botswana with the best scores, to Sudan and the Central African Republic with the worst. The number of countries delivering prosperity above what their wealth levels would otherwise suggest has increased. Yet in 2016, as in 2007, more than half of these countries sit in the bottom 30 of the Index.
The median rank of Sub-Saharan African countries remains low, at 124.5 (it was 125.5 in 2007). Meanwhile, that of developing Asia has improved from 85 to 75.5, and that of Eastern Europe from 62.5 to 55 In other words, despite strong absolute prosperity growth, Africa is lagging behind other developing regions.
Commodity-dependent economies struggle to convert wealth into prosperity
The majority of Sub-Saharan Africa has seen economic growth, though at a slower rate than in the past decade. However, many of the region’s richest economies underperform significantly when prosperity delivery is measured against their wealth. Oil-rich Gabon and Angola, posting some of the largest prosperity deficits globally, are striking examples of such underperformance. Similarly, Nigeria and the Republic of Congo struggle to deliver prosperity in spite of sizeable commodity endowments and are, in addition, afflicted by unstable political and security environments. Overall, economies across the continent remain in need of more diversification, in terms of quality of exports and revenue sources.
...while business environments improve
On the other hand, the business climate has become far more competitive, thanks to policies that make it easier to start new businesses and gain access to credit. This is particularly evident in Ghana, Togo, and Rwanda. However, a chronic lack of electricity and political turmoil remain the major obstacles to developing a thriving business environment, not only in these countries but in the whole region.
In the race for better health and education outcomes, Africa trails last in the field
Despite some progress in Health and Education, the overall score of both sub-indices remains far below the average of other developing regions, crippling countries’ chances of building a prosperous society. Literacy rates and primary completion rates have increased, but it is the quality of education that is not improving. Similarly, life expectancy and immunisation rates have both increased by 5 to 10 percent, but in the vast majority of African countries over half the population has no access to basic sanitation, and in Niger, Togo, and Madagascar less than 12 percent have such access.