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Africa’s inequality stifles growth, says report

May 3, 2017
FILE -- In this March 11, 2017 file photo a malnourished child is treated at the Banadir Hospital in Mogadishu, Somalia. In a report released by Oxfam at the World Economic Forum in Durban, South Africa, Wednesday, May 3, 2017 it said that Africa has higher levels of poverty than previously thought because decades of economic growth have only benefited a small elite. (AP Photo/Mohamed Sheikh Nor, File)

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Africa is experiencing higher levels of poverty than previously thought because decades of economic growth have only benefited a small wealthy elite, says a report released by the British aid group Oxfam at the World Economic Forum Africa which started in South Africa’s coastal city of Durban on Wednesday.

Inequality is rife in Africa, which has seven of the 20 most unequal countries in the world, and a further 250 to 350 million Africans could be living in extreme poverty within the next 15 years, the report says.

“Inequality in Africa is fueling poverty, fracturing our societies and stifling the potential of millions of people,” Winnie Byanyima, the co-chair of WEF Africa 2017 said.

“It will become a major drag on economic growth. Africa should stop imitating the failing policies of Europe and America and develop a new economic model that works for all Africans,” she said.

Swaziland is the world’s most unequal country, closely followed by Nigeria and South Africa, where three billionaires own the same amount of wealth as the poorest half of the population — around 28 million people, the report says.

The forum, which will run until 5 May, will be attended by 1,000 chief executives, business leaders and several African heads of state, including Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, South African President Jacob Zuma and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni.

Germany’s Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble and 14 business chief executives from the country will also attend.

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