African Press Association

Uphill task for African leaders to address inequality

World Economic Forum

– SWAZILAND, Nigeria and South Africa, respectively, are the world’s most unequal countries, an international confederation of
charitable organisations said ahead of the World Economic Forum (WEF) on Africa.

Swaziland is Africa’s last absolute monarchy, Nigeria the biggest economy and most populous country while South Africa is the most advanced economy.

Oxfam, the coalition of charities, called on African leaders to build a new more “human economy” to tackle inequality and poverty when they meet
at the WEF event in Durban, South Africa from Wednesday to Friday.

“African leaders must not kid themselves,” said Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of Oxfam and co-chair of WEF Africa 2017.

“If the wellbeing of our people and the protection of our environment are our primary aims rather than a hoped-for by-product of free markets, we
need to explicitly design economies to achieve these things,” added Byanyima.

She pointed out inequality was fuelling poverty, fracturing societies and stifling the potential of millions of people.

“It will become a major drag on economic growth.”

Byanyima urged Africa to stop imitating “failing” policies of Europe and America but develop a new economic model working for all Africans than a
“fortunate few.”

Oxfam cited data on top incomes from the Brookings Institute, which revealed levels of inequality in many African countries were far higher
than previously thought.

It is reported seven of the 20 most unequal countries in the world are African- Swaziland being the most unequal, closely followed by Nigeria.

In South Africa, three billionaires own the same wealth as the poorest half of the population – around 28 million people.

Oxfam South Africa Executive Director, Siphokazi Mthathi, proposed an economic revolution to ensure the poorest people could share the benefits
of economic success.

She criticized the approach of donors, governments and WEF to invest in large-scale industrial agriculture and ‘mega’ public-private-partnerships
that empower the elite.

“African leaders must start putting people first,” said Mthathi.

– CAJ News