Economic Development in Africa Report 2012

Structural Transformation and Sustainable Development in Africa

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This report provides concrete policy recommendations for African policy makers and their development partners on how to promote sustainable structural transformation in Africa, meaning a sustainable structural transformation that integrates the relative decoupling of natural resource use and environmental impacts from the growth process. The Report also discusses why a strategy of sustainable structural transformation is important for Africa, how strategic priorities can be identified and the role of the national State and the international community in such a strategy.

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Structural transformation and sustainable development in Africa: Main findings and recommendations

Over the past decade, African countries have had a relatively good economic growth performance, with real output growing at an annual average rate of about 5.8 per cent over the period 2002–2008 (AfDB et al., 2011). There are, however, indications that the current pattern of growth in the region may not be sustainable, because it is based on the use of non-renewable or exhaustible natural resources and has not been associated with significant improvements in employment. UNCTAD has consistently argued that structural transformation is necessary to address these current as well as emerging development challenges facing Africa. However, structural transformation is a double-edged sword. While it lays the foundation for high and sustained economic growth, it will also lead to deterioration in environmental quality, unless deliberate action is taken to ensure environmental sustainability during the transformation process.

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