Sub-Saharan Africa has little or no chance of achieving the UN target of having not more than three percent of its population living in extreme poverty by 2030, according to a new World Bank report.
While rates of absolute poverty have declined dramatically across many parts of sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) since the early 1990s, the rates of reduction are now decelerating.
The report says that in 2015, the last year for which detailed government statistics are available, more than half of the 736 million global poor resided in sub-Saharan Africa and more than 85 percent of the poor resided in either SSA or South Asia.
It also says that of the world’s 736 million extreme poor, 368 million — half of the total — lived in just five countries: India, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, and Bangladesh. They also happen to be the most populous countries of South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.
However, the rates of poverty reduction are far greater in South Asia than sub-Saharan Africa, leading the World Bank to declare that this year Nigeria will overtake India in terms of having the most people living in extreme poverty; that is, living on less than $1.90 a day.
“Simulations show that, as the number of the poor continues to decline in South Asia, the forecasts based on historical regional performance indicate that there will be no matching decline in poverty in sub-Saharan Africa,” the report says.
In Kenya, the number of people living in extreme poverty is 17.6 million, less than Tanzania (21.9 million) but more than Uganda (15.8 million).
While Kenya is now among the sub-Saharan African countries described as lower middle-income, this has not helped close the poverty gap between the rich and the poor.
The World Bank report says that by 2030, the share of the global poor residing in sub-Saharan Africa is forecast to be about 87 percent, “if economic growth over the next 12 years is similar to historical growth patterns.”
Around three quarters of the 43 countries with poverty rates above the average of 18 percent are in sub-Saharan Africa, where average rates stand at 41 percent.
The report says that “many of the countries with high poverty numbers, including Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Kenya, and Nigeria, have grown their economies out of the low-income-country status and are now middle-income countries.”
The World Bank says that there remain “significant challenges to reaching the goal of a world free of poverty. Meeting the global target of reducing extreme poverty to less than 3 percent will require substantially greater efforts … By 2030, under all but the most optimistic scenarios, poverty will remain in double digits in sub-Saharan Africa.”
The global poverty estimates are based on household surveys from 164 countries.