Gendered Asset Inequalities in Africa

This article looks at gendered asset inequalities in Africa. It shows that women have lower access to land; pursue largely informal and smaller entrepreneurial activities that pay less and have low value addition; have lower access to formal finance; and, have lower political capital. To close the gendered asset gap, there is need for: reform of land and financial laws; entrepreneurial training for women; affirmative action in key areas such as education and employment; special funds/programmes for women; and, use of quotas to enhance political participation by women.


Life during Structural Transformation

If the fame of a paper can be measured partly in the misconceptions that surround it, this is more than usually true of Kuznets (1955). It is often assumed that his paper established a non-monotonic relationship between inequality and the level of development, theinverted-UoftheKuznetshypothesis. Buthehadrelativelylittledatatowork with, and characterized his paper as ‘perhaps 5 per cent empirical information and 95 per cent speculation, some of it possibly tainted by wishful thinking’ (Kuznets, 1955, p. 26). He argued that, as economies industrialize, the path of inequality will be driven by changes in sectorial structure. If two sectors differ in their distributions of income, movements of population from one sector to the other can generate an inverted-U for aggregate inequality. In particular, the Kuznets hypothesis has been associated with a transition from rural agriculture towards urban manufacturing and services. In many countries, this process is far from complete, and its implications for inequality remain uncertain.

Globalization, Structural Change and Productivity growth

One of the earliest and most central insights of the literature on economic development is that development entails structural change. The countries that manage to pull themselves out of poverty and get richer are those that are able to diversify away from agriculture and other traditional products. As labor and other resources move from agriculture into modern economic activities, overall productivity rises and incomes expand. The speed with which this structural transformation takes place is the key factor that differentiates successful countries from unsuccessful ones.

African Economic Outlook 2013

Africa’s GDP grew at 6.6% in 2012 from 3.5% in 2011. This acceleration was partly due to considerable rebound in Libya’s GDP which in 2012 grew by 96%, after a sharp contraction of 60% in 2011 following the revolution. Netting out the Libyan effect, growth in Africa’s real GDP was recorded at 4.2%. Thus, Libya’s economic recovery added more than 2 percentage points to Africa’s growth in 2012.
The medium-term economic outlook for Africa remains favourable despite some country specific challenges and headwinds from the global economy, in particular Europe’s debt crisis and fiscal uncertainty in the United States. The projection assumes a gradual improvement in global economic conditions, consolidated domestic macroeconomic stability coupled with reign of peace in countries still plagued by political instability. Under these conditions, Africa’s economy is projected to grow by 4.8% in 2013 and accelerate to 5.3 % in 2014. The main engines of growth are expected to be expansion in agricultural production, robust growth in services and, a rise in oil production and increased mining activity mainly in resource-rich countries. This relatively broad-based pattern of economic growth will be underpinned by resurgence in supply and domestic demand conditions, the latter driven by an increase in consumption and investment

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Diversification and Sophistication as drivers of structural transformation for Africa: The Economic Complexity Index of African Countries

Despite the turbulences the western world has been experiencing since 2008, African countries continue to demonstrate some resilience. After decades of economic stagnation, most African countries have recently achieved sustainable economic growth over the past decade, and some are even among the world’s fastest growth performers. It is estimated that Africa has achieved an average growth rate of about 5% in 2012-2013, and forecasts indicate that it will remain the same level at 5.3%, in 2014 (African Economic Outlook, 2013 and African Development Report 2012). This good performance of African economies is the results of two major factors: (i) government reforms undertaken by governments and (ii) a significant increase in the exploitation and export of natural resources as a result of the recent high commodity prices.

Structural Transformation and Rural Change Revisited

Three characteristics from previous transitions must be kept in mind. First, the Western European and North American transitions that occurred over the 19th and the better part of the 20th centuries cannot be disconnected from European and American political hegemony, which reduced or eliminated competition and created captive markets that were very lucrative. Access to these markets strongly facilitated economic specialization and industrialization. S econd, the European transition was boosted by a unique outfl ow of international migrants that smoothed the adjustment of European economies and improved their ability to deal with labor surpluses. Between 1850 and 1930, nearly 60 million Europeans migrated to the New Worlds, 35 million to the United States alone. Third, the Latin American and Asian transitions started during a very specifi c period of self-centered national development that characterized the international regime between the 1929 crisis and the current era of globalization, which began at the end of the 1970s. This developmental regime was characterized by import substitution, protection, and strong state intervention, all of which contributed to economic modernization. In Latin America the economic transition started between the two World Wars; in Asia it began in the 1950s. Additionally, both regions benefi ted from massive assistance programs that resulted from the Cold War.

Structural Transformation and Natural Resources in Africa

The theme of last year’s edition of the African Economic Outlook, that of promoting youth employment, showed that in spite of steady growth Africa’s ability to offer economic and social opportunities to its younger generation has not matched its demographic dynamism. African economies today are facing nothing less than the formidable challenge of creating more and better jobs, not just by sustaining the pace of growth, but by making it more inclusive.
Emerging economies, such as Brazil, China, India among others, have been more successful than most African countries in that endeavour, achieving impressive reductions in poverty for more than two decades. How are they different from Africa? One answer is that they have undergone a more rapid structural transformation; that is, the process by which new, more productive activities arise and resources move from traditional activities to these newer ones. A higher proportion of labour thus moved from low-productivity to highproductivity sectors.

Culture Womens Empowerment

The Great Lakes region of Africa is faced by numerous problems ranging from military conflict and political instability to poverty, economic uncertainty, social upheavals and tensions, disease and gender inequality. These problems exist within a context of global advances in science and technology. Although some of these challenges are a consequence of globalization and unequal trade relations, colonial subjugation and ethnicity, others may be blamed on culture. While recognizing that, indeed, there are numerous cultural practices that require immediate eradication it is vital to appreciate that there are still many others that are useful, either potentially or in reality.
But what do we mean by culture? Culture may be viewed as the total sum of a people’s way of life. It includes norms and values of a society: their religion, politics, economics, technology, food habits, medicine, rules of marriage, the performing arts, law and so on. For Geertz (1973:44-5) culture is “a set of control mechanisms – plans, recipes, rules, instruments (what computer engineers call “programs”) – for governing of behaviour.” According to him, this view of culture “begins with the assumption that human thought is basically both social and public – that its natural habitat is the house yard, the market place, and the town square.” Geertz’s interpretation of culture has the requisite implications of power and control mechanisms embedded in culture, which allow for the exploration of gender inequality and inequity.

Food Sovereignty: A critical Dialogue

Agricultural transformation is imminent and necessary in Africa, given the new trend of the global economic agenda, characterized by increasing integration through trade, including in food supply chains. Structural transformation (ST) of the agricultural sector is critical to long term growth in any agrarian economy. ST involves a progressive movement of labor and resources from primary agriculture into its vertical chain (agro-based industrialization) (Staaz, 1998, Staaz and Dembele, 2006). ST therefore transforms the labor-technology relationship in the agricultural sector.


Healthy Ageing: Raising Awareness of Inequalities, Determinants, and What Could Be Done to Improve Health Equity

Purpose of the Study: Social and scientific discourses on healthy aging and on health equity are increasingly available, yet from a global perspective limited conceptual and analytical work connecting both has been published. This review was done to inform the WHO World Report on Aging and Health and to inform and encourage further work addressing both healthy aging and equity. Design and Methods: We conducted an extensive literature review on the overlap between both topics, privileging publications from 2005 onward, from low-, middle-, and high-income countries. We also reviewed evidence generated around the WHO Commission on Social Determinants of Health, applicable to aging and health across the life course.

Results: Based on data from 194 countries, we highlight differences in older adults’ health and consider three issues: First, multi- level factors that contribute to differences in healthy aging, across contexts; second, policies or potential entry points for action that could serve to reduce unfair differences (health inequities); and third, new research areas to address the cause of persistent inequities and gaps in evidence on what can be done to increase healthy aging and health equity.

Implications: Each of these areas warrant in depth analysis and synthesis, whereas this article presents an overview for further consideration and action.

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