ECA Policy Brief - Issue 02
Africa achieved relatively high growth rates in the first decade of the 21st century. This growth was generally shared across the continent with several countries experiencing growth rates that exceeded their population growth rates, thus leading to increases in per capita income. This rapid growth rate was generally underpinned by increased investment financed by high commodity prices, resource extraction, foreign direct investment (FDI), and inflows of other foreign resources, as well as macroeconomic stability and better economic management. This rapid growth episode was however, not accompanied by meaningful growth in employment. Unemployment rates were estimated to have risen from 7.4 per cent to 8.2 per cent between 1998 and 2009 in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) and from 12.8 per cent to over 13 per cent in North Africa (NA) over the same period. As a result of high unemployment and the fact that even those that are employed struggle to find decent work in the formal sector, poverty rates remained chronically high in Africa over the last three decades.