The 2012 Africa Progress Report, launched on Friday by the Africa Progress Panel, warns that Africa' s strong economic growth trajectory -- which will see the region increase the pace of growth well beyond 5 percent over the next two years -- is at risk because of rising inequality and the marginalization of whole sections of society.
The report, an achievement of the ongoing World Economic Forum on Africa, calls for African leaders to deliver on jobs, justice and equity to turn Africa's population boom into a demographic dividend and avoid "disaster."
Kofi Annan, Chair of the Africa Progress Panel, states in the report that, "Disparities in basic life-chances – for health, education and participation in society – are preventing millions of Africans from realizing their potential, holding back social and economic progress in the process."
The report notes that Africa has seven of the world's fastest- growing economies, with 70 percent of Africa's population living in countries that have averaged economic growth rates in excess of 4 percent over the past decade.
However, the report also records that most countries are not on track to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015, flagging slow progress in areas such as child nutrition, child survival, maternal health, and education.
The need for equitable growth is all the more critical, the report states, because of Africa's "profound demographic shift," which will see the continent's population double in three decades, and continue to rise into the second half of the 21st century. The report highlights that today there are 70 million more Africans aged under 14 than there were a decade ago. Over the next decade that number will rise by another 76 million.