Africans are seeing a steady improvement in the quality of their lives, with some countries even nearing world averages, says a wide-ranging report out Monday on the continent’s future.
While large portions of the continent’s 1.2 billion people live in poverty, many of Africa’s 54 nations have made significant progress in health, education and standard of living.
“At least a third of African countries have now achieved medium to high levels of human development,” said the report published by the African Development Bank, referring to a composite measure of a nation’s condition.
“North Africa has the highest levels, approaching the world average, but all sub-regions have seen steady improvement” since the turn of the 21st century, it added.
Despite the advances, some 544 million Africans still live in poverty, according to the report titled “African Economic Outlook 2017”.
Rwanda recorded the most progress, followed by Ghana and Liberia in the fight against poverty since 2005. One of Rwanda’s key efforts was a community-based health insurance system that by 2010 had covered nearly 9 in 10 of its people.
At the same time, north African nations Egypt and Tunisia have health insurance systems that cover 78 percent and 100 percent respectively of their residents.
Spending on education, which is considered key for development, is above six percent of gross domestic product in South Africa, Ghana, Morocco, Mozambique and Tunisia. While Nigeria puts less than one percent of its GDP into schooling.
According to World Bank figures, European Union nations spent an average of 4.9 percent of their GDP on education in 2013.
‘Potential for prosperity’
In central Africa, where school completion rates for girls are the lowest on the continent, the gap with boys is increasingly narrowing. Nearly three times as many girls finished secondary education in 2014 than a decade prior.