Saturday, April 25, 2009

700,000 children to die in Africa as a result of global economic crisis!

By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi

The yet to be realized consequences of the global economic crisis holds a bleak future for Africa’s children, the World Bank has said.

The continent would be worst hit, even though, it was the least affected at the beginning of the crisis.

700,000 babies would die before they reach the age of one, as a result of the global economic crisis, according to the World Bank’s Vice President for Africa.

“This is a serious human and development disaster that is waiting to happen,” she said.

Ms. Obiageli Ezekwesili told Journalists on the continent during a video conference from the Bank’s Washington office on Wednesday April 22, 2009, that the impacts of the global crisis on the continent would be enormous.

She said 25 of the world’s 35 countries categorized as fragile by the World Bank are in Africa.

She also warned that unless effective responses and measures are taken most African countries would not be able to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by the year 2015.

Ghana and Tanzania were on course to achieve the number one objectives of the MDGs, which is half poverty by 2015 but due to the crisis, these countries are not likely to achieve the goal.

Some of the likely impacts of the crisis on the continent include a drop in foreign aid, foreign direct investments and remittances. Some foreign investors are holding their investments, foreign aid is not likely to increase because most countries are looking within to help their people first and most Africans who used to remit their families on the continent are out of job.

Ms. Ezekwesili reiterated the point that investments in Africa should go into infrastructure development so as to open up the continent’s economy to create jobs.

She also urged investments in agriculture which has the potential to increase employment.

Even before the economic crisis, Africa, despite the progress it was making still had a lot more to do to develop its human capital and economy.

Lack of transparency, accountability and inconsistencies in economic policies coupled with poor political leadership have been the bane of the continent.

Saddled with these counter-development trends, it does not appear the continent would be able to weather the storm when the full impact of the crisis hits.

Sadly, it is the poor and vulnerable who would bear the brunt of the effects, while the elite would continue to loot national coffers to cushion themselves and their cronies.

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