However, it unveils serious problems in Health, Education and Safety & Security underlining the challenges that are faced across the continent that are impacting long-term development and shared prosperity. The report is designed to shed light on the issue and inform better policy making.

Nathan Gamester, Programme Director of the Prosperity Index, says, “Prosperity is not just about having a strong economy; it is about having great education, healthcare, and freedom to choose among other things. As African economies grow, a chief concern for many governments is how to ensure that the fruits of growth benefit a majority of the population and contribute to true long term prosperity."

By exploring both wealth and wellbeing, the Africa Prosperity Report provides a broad overview of Africa’s performance. In addition to the traditional economic indicators, it assesses how a nation performs in vital areas characterised in the form of eight sub-indices: Education, Economy & Opportunity, Governance, Health, Personal Freedom, Safety & Security and Social Security. The report was published by The Legatum Institute, a charitable public policy think-tank and independent member of the Legatum Group. The majority of data and analysis is taken from the flagship Legatum Prosperity Index™, which explores the foundations of prosperity in 142 countries around the world.

The 2014 Africa Prosperity Report identifies and examines three distinct groups of people who are identified as drivers of African prosperity: the well-educated, female entrepreneurs and the middle class.

Solene Dengler, Research Analyst in the Prosperity Index team states, “By supporting education quality, female entrepreneurship, and the rising middle class, African countries could avoid a future where inequality and chronic poverty persist alongside wealth and prosperity. In turn, this will empower disadvantaged groups that have been left out of the current economic boom, raising personal and national wellbeing.”

Improving the basic education system and developing the right set of employable skills remain the biggest challenge for Tanzania and many other African nations. Education is key for prosperity because a well-educated person is more productive, more likely to participate in political processes, demand better governance and to take part in societal development.

Novella Bottini, Economist in the Prosperity Index team states, “With regards to entrepreneurship, despite efforts to promote business across Africa, women are often left out. Initiatives that support women empowerment and a more active participation in business will be key for future prosperity through increased economic activity, and larger investments in health and education of their families and communities.”

The middle class has a double role in driving prosperity: its higher income and consumption can increase the continent’s economic growth and help rebalance the African economy; and its set of values and attitudes, if well-managed, can improve the country’s socio-political environment.

Eastern Africa shows greatest rise in prosperity on the continent in three years

The Economy sub-index for Africa showed the greatest increase between 2012 and 2014. Eastern Africa is highlighted in the report as the region with the largest increase in prosperity in the past three years. Rwanda has risen five place since 2012 and is now ranked 8th amongst 38 African countries.   Its rise over the years is attributable to strong scores in Governance, Entrepreneurship and Opportunity, Health, Safety and Security.

Southern Africa performed well across the board, particularly in Education, Governance, Entrepreneurship and Opportunity, and Botswana was named the most prosperous country in Africa overall for the third year in a row. Botswana scored well in the Governance, Education and Personal Freedom Indices and was named the richest country on the continent in terms of GDP per capita ($15,176) which contrasts with the Central African Republic ($584 per capita) which is the lowest ranked country.

Health infrastructure in Africa is weak, but getting better

Nine of the bottom 10 countries in the global Prosperity Index for Health are in Sub-Saharan Africa: Angola, Guinea,  Zambia, Burundi, Mozambique, Democratic Republic of Congo, Chad, Central African Republic and Sierra Leone, however eight of the 10 most improved countries in Health are also in sub-Saharan Africa: Tanzania ,Mozambique, Cameroon,  Mali, Senegal, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe and Rwanda.

Sierra Leone, the country worst affected by the Ebola outbreak, is at the bottom of 142 countries in terms of health indicators. Liberia and Guinea are amongst the ten African countries with the highest self-reported health problems. In Liberia, 31% of people reported having health problems, and in Guinea 29%, when the average in Africa is 25%.  Besides high self-reported health problems, this low score is due to low sanitation levels, with only 17% and 19% of their respective populations having access to sanitation facilities. In contrast, four out of the top five countries in Africa for health are in Northern Africa (Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Egypt).

Whilst Northern Africa is at the top of the rankings for health, all Northern African countries are in the bottom third for Personal Freedom and, in addition, it has decreased in the past two years. In particular, Egypt has ranked last (38th) in the Personal Freedom sub-index for the past three years and it is also revealed to be the country with the lowest tolerance for immigrants (40%) and minorities (20%) in Africa in 2014.

Poor performance in measures of education is a major impediment to Africa’s future growth

Whilst all countries in Southern Africa are in the top ten for Education, Burkina Faso is the most improved country in this sub-index in Africa. The country has increased its enrolment rates in primary, secondary, and tertiary education and satisfaction with educational quality has increased in the country. Liberia, on the other hand, is the country that has decreased the most in Education, mainly due to a drop in enrolment rates in primary education. This figure is expected to decrease further as a result of the Ebola crisis given that some Western African governments have temporarily closed their schools. The use of ICT in education can help to allow scholars to remain engaged with their schoolwork in these types of situations. Data shows that African children lack the fundamental hard and soft skills necessary for sustained economic development.  Failure to provide future generations with the right skills will result in large inequalities and reduced economic growth. Employers across the continent are deploring a mismatch between the curriculum content, teaching methods and employable skills such as analytical thinking, motivation and problem-solving ability.

ENDS

Note to Editors

  1. The full report is available here. Alternatively, the full set of data and tables is available at www.prosperity.com

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