Recent economic growth in Africa should be more widely distributed – UN envoy

Recent economic growth in Africa should be more widely distributed – UN envoy

Cheick Diarra
The recent economic growth among Africa’s poorest countries has been confined mainly to those nations with rich mineral resources and has not yet translated to a substantial reduction in poverty, the United Nations envoy for those nations said today as he pledged to spearhead efforts to better distribute the emerging wealth.

Cheikh Sidi Diarra, who was appointed in July as the Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, told his first press conference at UN Headquarters in New York that extreme poverty remains stubbornly high in the world’s most vulnerable nations.

Nearly half of the estimated 760 million people in the 50 States classed as least developing countries (LDCs) live in extreme poverty, or on less than $1 per day, he said.

Mr. Diarra said the situation was harshest in sub-Saharan Africa, home to 34 of the 50 LDCs and the only region in the world where the percentage of people living in extreme poverty rose in the two decades until 2001.

Although many countries in that region are enjoying solid economic growth and receiving greater amounts of foreign direct investment (FDI), they are still concentrated in the countries with high amounts of mineral resources.

Mr. Diarra said the growth needs to be more evenly spread and he called on developed nations to play their part by helping poor countries improve their infrastructure and expand their export trade.

The envoy also promised to focus on efforts to encourage good governance in LDCs, which he stressed was a critical factor in ensuring they make economic and social progress.