Arrested development

There are just six years to go to the deadline set by the international community for achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The trouble is, reports now indicate that no sub-Saharan African country will attain all the goals by 2015.


The good news is that civil conflict on the continent has cooled and several African nations have launched reforms to accelerate growth and moves towards democracy. But forces beyond governments' control, such as world food prices, the global slowdown in economic growth and climate change are undermining efforts to attain the MDGs by the 2015 target date. Nearly half the countries on the continent are considered below average in their bid to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger (Goal 1).

Child mortality rates are still unacceptably high in the majority of African countries (Goal 4). And the scenario looks no brighter in the short term. Following half a decade of above 5% economic growth, the continent can anticipate only 2.8% growth in 2009, less than half of the 5.7% expected before the economic crisis. That slower rate translates into people sliding back into poverty.

But that slide can be slowed, even averted, if developed countries honour their aid commitments. In 2008, total net official development assistance from members of the OECD's Development Assistance Committee (DAC) rose by 10.2% in real terms to US$119.8 billion-the highest dollar figure ever recorded and one which crisis-squeezed governments should do all they can to beat in 2009.

For more on the MDGs, visit

African Economic Outlook 2009 is available at


©OECD Observer No 273 June 2009

Economic data


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