WASHINGTON, July 7, 2014 - Over the past 15 years, GDP growth in Africa has been higher than in the rest of the developing world, excluding China. Good news. But despite this tremendous economic growth, poverty reduction in Africa was less impressive, with nearly half of the population still living on less than US$1.25 a day per capita (2010). Scholars from all over the world recently gathered in Paris at Maison de la Recherche for the Annual Bank Conference on Africa, to discuss ways to make economic growth work better for the poorest families on the continent.
In his introductory remarks to the assembled researchers, Makhtar Diop, World Bank vice president for Africa, reminded the audience that “the legitimacy of the World Bank is not the dollar amount we put on the table; it is the knowledge and healthy policy dialogue it encourages.”
Diop encouraged his Chief Economist, Francisco Ferreira, to organize the inaugural event after Ferreira pitched the idea as one of a number of ways to mobilize the Bank’s Africa region behind promising new knowledge partnerships that can move us closer to achieving the twin goals of boosting shared prosperity and eliminating extreme poverty by 2030.
“The reason we decided to organize this conference was the realization that even though Africa is growing, and has been growing steadily for the past 20 years, poverty is falling too slowly, and we need to understand better why Africa’s growth is not translating into better and faster poverty reduction,” said Ferreira.
“There are lots of ways to learn about this and one of them is to bring together some of the brightest people working on economic research on Africa, from Africa itself, from North America, from Europe, from everywhere. To do that, we have partnered with the Paris School of Economics, which is a relatively young university but already ranked eighth in the world in terms of research output and has depth in research on development in Africa,” he added.
François Bourguignon, former chief economist and vice president of the World Bank, who until this year served as director of the Paris School of Economics, took the opportunity to announce the creation of a chair in African studies within the prestigious institute. At the PSE, whose motto is “economics serving society,” the chair will be a center for deliberation by top experts on questions related to Africa.