OVERVIEW

Overall, Africa’s economic performance has improved remarkably in the past two decades. GDP growth averaged 3.8 percent  per year during 1995–2003, and increased to 6.3 percent in 2003; thereafter, growth increased to an average of 6.6 percent per year during 2003–2008, before it declined—especially in response to the global economic crisis—ultimately reaching 4.0 percent in 2015. Africa-wide, GDP per capita growth averaged 1.1 percent per year during 1995–2003, 3.8 percent during 2003–2008, and 0.9 percent per year during 2008–2015. 

Africa comprises 54 countries grouped into five geographic subregions: North Africa, East Africa, West Africa, Central Africa, and Southern Africa. The continent can also be divided into four income groups: Low-income countries with less favorable agricultural conditions (LI-1), Low-income countries with more favorable agricultural conditions (LI-2), Low-income mineral-rich countries (LI-3), and Middle-income countries (MI). Africa also comprises eight regional economic communities or RECs: the Community of Sahel Saharan States (CEN-SAD), the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the East African Community (EAC), the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the Southern African Development Community (SADC), and the Arab Maghreb Union (UMA).

Investing 10 percent of public expenditures in agriculture

At the subregional level, Eastern Africa had the highest agricultural expenditure shares in each period, with average shares of 5.7 percent during 1995–2003, 6.1 percent during 2003–2008, and 5.7 percent during 2008–2014. Central Africa recorded positive growth in its shares over time, with average shares of 2.0 percent, 3.0 percent, and 3.5 percent during the three periods, respectively. Average agricultural expenditure shares for Western Africa also increased, from 3.4 percent in 1995–2003, to 3.8 percent in 2003–2008, to 4.1 percent in 2008–2014. In Northern Africa, average expenditure shares declined from 4.6 percent in 1995–2003 to 3.9 percent in 2003–2008 and 2.9 percent in 2008–2014. Southern Africa recorded the lowest agricultural expenditure shares, averaging 1.6 percent in 1995–2003, 2.5 percent in 2003–2008, and 2.2 percent in 2008–2014. None of the subregions met the CAADP 10 percent expenditure share target. 

As a whole, Africa has not met CAADP’s agricultural spending target of 10 percent of total public expenditures. Africa-wide, the share averaged 3.2 percent per year during 1995–2003, rising to 3.5 percent per year during 2003–2008, before contracting once again to 3.0 percent per year during 2008–2014. This pattern reflects an average yearly increase of 3.4 percent during 1995–2003, followed by declines of –1.2 and –1.5 percent per year on average, respectively, during 2003–2008 and 2008–2014. 

Sustaining agricultural GDP at a minimum of 6 percent per year

Africa-wide, agricultural GDP growth averaged 4.8 percent per year during 1995–2003, 4.7 percent per year during 2003–2008, and 3.4 percent per year during 2008–2015. West, East, North, Central, and Southern Africa all recorded positive agricultural growth of 2.5, 4.1, 6.4, 5.2, and 2.3 percent per year on average, respectively, during 2008–2015. 

Poverty

Based on the international poverty line of $1.90 per day, the Africa-wide poverty level declined by 1.1 percent per year on average during 2003–2008 and 1.3 percent per year during 2008–2015, reaching 40.1 percent in 2015 compared with 46.5 percent in 2003. As of 2015, of the five geographic subregions the poverty level is highest in West Africa (47.4 percent), followed by East Africa (41.0 percent); among the income groups, the incidence of poverty is highest among the mineral-rich countries (52.0 percent); and among the regional economic communities, the poverty level is highest among the ECOWAS (47.4 percent), COMESA (44.9), EAC (44.7 percent), and SADC member countries (44.2 percent).

Ending Hunger

Africa-wide the prevalence of child stunting (as a share of children aged under five years old) declined by 1.0 percent per year on average during 2003–2008 and 1.8 percent per year during 2008–2015, to reach 33.7 percent in 2015—down from 40.2 percent in 2003. As of 2015, rates were highest in Central and East Africa (41.0 and 37.3 percent, respectively). The prevalence of underweight (based on weight for age as a share of children under five years old) declined by 1.7 percent per year on average during 2003–2008 and 2.0 percent per year on average during 2008–2015, to reach 18.5 percent in 2015 compared with 23.5 percent in 2003. Finally, Africa-wide the prevalence of undernourishment declined from 22.2 percent in 2003 to 16.3 percent in 2015.