Dormant potential stifles Africa’s growth

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As ‘Africa Week’ is underway at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, top officials addressed the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) panel speaking on how the continent can advance and where it is falling short.  

According to the UN, in past decade the continent’s economies grew at an average rate of 5,6 per cent. This makes it the world’s fastest growing region after East Asia. In comparison to other developing regions, the continent has the highest rate of return with foreign direct investment into the continent reaching over 50 billion dollars in 2013.

“To further accelerate this growth, African countries will need to modernize their agriculture, industrialize more, add value to their vast natural resources, innovate and create more employment opportunities especially for the youth,” said Sam Kutesa, president of the UN General Assembly.

(READ MORE: Growth remains robust in Africa’s low-income countries)

Issues holding the continent back include inadequate infrastructure, access to healthcare, lack of access to basic social services as well as inadequate employment training and skills development.

Another topic addressed to the panel by Jan Eliasson, UN deputy secretary general, was the Ebola outbreak which has spread from West Africa. In response to the outbreak, the UN has deployed its first-ever emergency health mission – the United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Response – which will assist in treating infected people, preserving stability, preventing the spread of Ebola and assist in defeating it.

(READ MORE: Growth projected for Africa in 2014)