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Growth has not helped Africa’s poor: development bank

A top official at the African Development Bank on Tuesday admitted the continent’s breakneck growth has not yet transformed the lives of normal Africans.

“Our growth really has not been transformative,” said Ebrima Faal, Southern Africa Director of the African Development Bank.

“I think we’ve seen a lot of headline growth, but that growth has not percolated as it were, down to the general population to benefit.”

With growth rates to rival Asia and vast untapped potential, Africa has been shedding its decades-old reputation as a risky place to do business.

The International Monetary Fund in October predicted the region’s economy would grow by 5.7 percent in 2013.

Especially strong growth is expected in Ghana, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Angola and Gabon.

But despite a bevy of commentators singing the mantra of a rising Africa, many of the fastest growth rates have been seen in resource-rich economies where wealth is highly centralised.

Faal said more needs to be done to develop the regional economy if growth is to work for everyone.

“You have to really develop the skills, we have to have the right technology and perhaps to allow the movement of skills in the continent.”

“I think there’s very little trade, also, happening within the continent.”

“To some extent, we have seen some improvement over the last five years but there’s still a lot that needs to be done to generate trade within the African continent.”

Faal also hopes that partnerships with new economic powerhouses like Brazil, Russia, India and China could help boost capacity.

“What we have in the BRICS at this moment… is a group of countries, surplus countries, that have the means to help us develop our infrastructure.”

In March leaders from the BRICS countries will meet in Durban for a summit that is expected to launch a development bank.

Each country is expected to contribute around $50 billion.