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Strategies for Improving Well-Being in Sub-Saharan Africa

The New Prosperity
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Africa is often viewed as a region of extremes, with both tremendous resources and enduring difficulties. In recent years, demand for those resources has stoked strong economic growth. But that growth has played out amid well-documented—and daunting—challenges: conflict, poverty, and the twin scourges of HIV and AIDS, to name just a few. A deeper look at what is occurring in Africa today reveals a more complex—and hopeful—picture.

The Boston Consulting Group, in partnership with the Tony Blair Africa Governance Initiative (AGI), has used BCG’s Sustainable Economic Development Assessment (SEDA) methodology to study Sub-Saharan Africa. Instead of focusing on GDP per capita—the traditional indicator of a country’s general welfare—SEDA assesses overall well-being, a comprehensive measure of a population’s living standards that includes governance, health, and economic stability. This in-depth evaluation broadens the traditional view of Africa, which has often centered on poverty and on tapping the continent’s vast natural resources, and reveals where real progress is being made.

The SEDA evaluation makes clear that there is great reason for optimism about Africa. While Sub-Saharan African nations still have current levels of well-being far below those of wealthier countries, they are nevertheless among the nations making the biggest gains globally. In fact, an examination of countries around the world with the greatest recent progress in well-being shows that 8 of the top 30 countries are from Sub-Saharan Africa.

The eight African countries, ranked in order of the fastest recent progress, are Angola, Ethiopia, Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Malawi, Lesotho, Tanzania, and Nigeria.

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