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African Poverty at the Millennium : Causes, Complexities, and Challenges


  • Howard White
  • Tony Killick
  • Steve Kayizzi-Mugerwa
  • Marie-Angelique Savane


The multifaceted nature of the poverty problem, and the widening gap between the levels of human well-being in Africa, compared with the other developing regions, are the central themes of this report. The key elements of poverty reduction strategies in the region are reviewed, pointing at the need for accelerated economic growth, if living standards are to improve in Africa. To this end, the report outlines the growth of African poverty, amid the variations between countries, which reflect regional differences, such as higher levels of infant/child mortality in West Africa, though this gap is narrowing, partly because of the higher HIV/AIDS prevalence in eastern, and southern Africa. It analyzes the causes of poverty, through the interaction of cause and effect, neglect, and policy implications, and examines economic stagnation as the cause of much poverty, through an overview of growth vs. distribution, the slow pace of growth in Africa, and the impact of growth as it affects poverty groups differently. However, it also points at the failure of both governments, and markets in reducing poverty, stating political systems do contribute to economic stagnation, whereas sustainable social indicators require not only growing incomes, but improved state service provision. The need for the donor community to redefine poverty reduction is imminent, and the report suggests more selective aid allocation, including debt relief, in accordance with government commitments to reducing poverty.

Suggested Citation

  • Howard White & Tony Killick & Steve Kayizzi-Mugerwa & Marie-Angelique Savane, 2001. "African Poverty at the Millennium : Causes, Complexities, and Challenges," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 13866.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbpubs:13866

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    2. Sinyolo, Sikhulumile & Mudhara, Maxwell & Wale, Edilegnaw, 2016. "To what extent does dependence on social grants affect smallholder farmers’ incentives to farm? Evidence from KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa," African Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, African Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 11(2), pages 1-12.
    3. Birdsall, Nancy & Claessens, Stijn & Diwan, Ishac, 2002. "Will HIPC Matter? The Debt Game and Donor Behaviour in Africa," CEPR Discussion Papers 3297, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    4. James B. Abugre, 2013. "Current and Desired Employee Communication Patterns in Sub-Saharan Africa: Empirical Evidence on Four Ghanaian Organizations," Journal of African Business, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 14(1), pages 33-46, April.
    5. Shinns, L.H. & Lyne, Michael C., 2005. "Possible causes of poverty within a group of land reform beneficiaries in the midlands of KwaZulu-Natal: Analysis and policy recommendations," Agrekon, Agricultural Economics Association of South Africa (AEASA), vol. 44(1), pages 1-13, March.
    6. Florence Charlier & Charles N'Cho-Oguie, 2009. "Sustaining Reforms for Inclusive Growth in Cameroon : A Development Policy Review," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 2676, December.
    7. HEPP, Ralf, 2010. "CONSEQUENCES OF DEBT RELIEF INITIATIVES IN THE 1990s," Applied Econometrics and International Development, Euro-American Association of Economic Development, vol. 10(1).
    8. Jean-Pierre Lachaud, 2001. "Les déterminants de l'évolution de la survie des enfants et la pauvreté au Burkina Faso : une approche micro-économétrique," Documents de travail 60, Groupe d'Economie du Développement de l'Université Montesquieu Bordeaux IV.
    9. Godwin E. Akpan, 2015. "Empowering Women and Youth in Micro- And Small-Scale Enterprises (MSSEs) For Wealth Creation," International Journal of Asian Social Science, Asian Economic and Social Society, vol. 5(2), pages 52-63, February.
    10. Colmenar-Santos, Antonio & Rosales-Asensio, Enrique & Borge-Diez, David & Mur-Pérez, Francisco, 2015. "Cogeneration and district heating networks: Measures to remove institutional and financial barriers that restrict their joint use in the EU-28," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 85(C), pages 403-414.
    11. Nielsen, Martin Reinhardt & Pouliot, Mariève & Kim Bakkegaard, Riyong, 2012. "Combining income and assets measures to include the transitory nature of poverty in assessments of forest dependence: Evidence from the Democratic Republic of Congo," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 78(C), pages 37-46.
    12. Booth, David, 2001. "PRSP Processes in Eight African Countries: Initial Impacts and Potential for Institutionalization," WIDER Working Paper Series 121, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    13. Pretes, Michael, 2002. "Microequity and Microfinance," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 30(8), pages 1341-1353, August.
    14. Matthew Lockwood, 2005. "Will a Marshall Plan for Africa make poverty history?," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 17(6), pages 775-789.


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