Energy Crisis in Africa: the case of Comoros

Energy Crisis in Africa: the case of Comoros


Energy has long been regarded as an important factor in a country’s social and economic growth. This is still evident today, and it is especially true for weak, non-interconnected areas, such as small island republics. Comoros’s energy status, just like several other Small Island Developing States (SIDS) around the world, is heavily reliant on fossil fuel imports. From the standpoint of sustainability, availability, and affordability, energy security is critical to the archipelago’s socio-economic prosperity. The development of renewable electricity generation appears to be a crucial prerequisite for ensuring a sustainable future as a forward-looking response to energy vulnerability. The potential for renewable energy in Comoros has yet to be investigated. The main problem is that there have never been any reliable energy statistics in the past. As a result, socioeconomic data were obtained and analysed through books, reports, publications, and the World Bank database, among other sources. Meetings and interactions with various energy players in Comoros, as well as published sources, provided most of the data used. The potential for solar or wind energy production was calculated using online geographic information systems (GIS) or freely available open-source software. Despite the enormous potential for renewable energy, hydropower only accounts for 3.8 per cent of the Comorian electrical supply. This article presents an analysis of the energy situation in Comoros, with a focus on renewable energy options to help with the green power supply. The goal of this article is to discuss the steps that are being taken in Comoros to address the present energy crisis as well as to contribute to the construction of a conducive climate for the private sector to participate in the development of renewable energy in the country. The findings of this paper reveal that only 8% of the people in Comoros have access to electricity, with the three islands servicing only 8% of the population (Grande Comore, Moheli and Anjouan). Despite the vast potential of many resources, this study concludes that renewable energies are infrequently utilized. Finally, this study makes recommendations for Comoros to achieve a more sustainable future.


Despite having one of Africa’s highest electrification rates, the Union of Comoros faces a particularly difficult energy scenario. Comoros has the greatest rate of energy loss and the lowest cost recovery rate in Africa. It is estimated that 48% of the electricity generated is wasted, with just 33% of the energy sold being paid for. The enormous power shortage, which acts as a key impediment to the country’s socio-economic development, is one of the most important concerns to overcome in achieving Comoros’ growth possibilities. Due to a structural problem of high generation costs and ineffective sector management, Comoros’ power sector is experiencing an energy crisis. The country’s dependence on fossil fuels and the worn-out national power grid, which is inadequately operated and maintained, hinder socioeconomic development in an already fragile environment. The larger cities and the capital Moroni regularly experience power outages lasting several hours per day.

Comoros is an archipelago, and its geography lends itself to a decentralized power grid with different levels of government on each island. However, the large inventory of public buildings owned by the Comoros government can be used to install solar energy systems and address the energy crisis. In addition to public buildings, mosques account for a significant portion of total electricity consumption in a country where nearly 98% of the population is Muslim and attendance at a mosque in central to religious rituals, practices, and a sense of community. “Public buildings account for about 15% of daily national energy consumption,” said Mohamed Nassur, Director of Energy at the Comoros Ministry of Energy, Water and Hydrocarbons. “Reducing national energy costs by promoting renewable energy will contribute significantly to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The technical assistance provided to Comoros following the Climate Investment Platform’s call for proposals will help the General Directorate of Energy, Mines and Water identify its own consumption needs. For a period of six months, the project Green, and Smart Administration: promoting self-production and self-consumption in public institutions (administration and large mosques) in Comoros will identify energy demand and consumption in public and religious buildings on the three islands of Ngazidja, Anjouan and Mohéli.

The Ministry will use the results of the feasibility study to implement individual and collective self-consumption and, if possible, self-production in all public institutions of the Union of Comoros. “The performance of public administrations is at the mercy of unstable electricity supply. Promoting clean energy will contribute to the national goal of increasing renewable energy supply – and it will also help increase government performance and efficiency. The Climate Investment Platform’s Thomas Jensen Energy Transition Award is a significant step toward more comprehensive and informed climate change initiatives. It will help promote energy conservation and green practices that have the potential to be replicated in other public sectors across the country,” added Fenella Frost, UNDP Representative to Comoros. Mohamed Oussein Dahalani, Imam of the Grand Mosque of Moroni, emphasized the role of clean energy in supporting the mission of large mosques to promote sustainable development initiatives for the well-being of the community and its environment. The unreliability of the current electricity grid and the high cost of electricity make the possibility of switching or incorporating more renewable energy into the energy mix very attractive. The CIP-funded project will contribute to the National Contributions formulated by Comoros.


As already mentioned, the renewable energy potential of Comoros has yet to be investigated. The main issue is that there have never been any reliable energy statistics in the past. As a result, socioeconomic information was gathered using the World Bank database. Meetings and interactions with various energy players in Comoros, as well as published sources, provided most of the data used. The potential for solar or wind energy production was calculated using online geographic information systems (GIS) or freely available open-source software.

Prior to the current energy scenario in Comoros, which is characterized by significant spatial inequalities in terms of energy security and economic development throughout the three islands, the Union of Comoros continues to focus on the issue of sustainable electricity.

In the coming years, Comoros’ main task will be to achieve a balance between the quality of its electricity supply and the growth of a low-carbon energy sector. Despite its enormous potential, the Comoros electrical sector must develop critical solutions to address the financial, management, and governance challenges that continue to hinder renewable energy development, especially in rural areas. In comparison to islands in the Indian Ocean that are close by, such as Mauritius[1], Madagascar[2], and La Reunion[3], Comoros has a negligible share of renewable energy (see Table 1).

Table 1: Energy use by source in 2016[4]

ResourcesEnergy (toe)Share (%)
Liquified Petroleum Gas8310,56
Oil/Jet fuel1641611,07
Dry wood8981660,58
Renewable energy1550,10


There is no explicit policy in place in Comoros to encourage the development of renewable energy sources. This is because of three major issues. To begin with, the country’s economic situation is dire. The country is plagued by structural flaws, and the economy remains unstable, limiting the country’s ability to invest in its development. Second, political instability is a barrier to foreign capital investment and the long-term viability of major policy directions, particularly in the energy sector. Third, developing an energy strategy necessitates precise statistical data on the territory, which is currently missing. In June 2017[5], the Comorian government conducted its first national energy conference, despite all these disadvantages. The government reaffirmed its willingness to guide the country out of its precarious energy predicament during this gathering.

The government has rallied energy stakeholders around Comoro’s Horizon 2030, a medium-term strategic objective. The Ministry of Energy is currently in charge of the electricity delivery. However, the country receives foreign cash on a regular basis to enhance and renew these facilities. The biggest issue until now has been meeting electricity needs with fossil fuel power plants. It is critical to adopt a real energy policy to lay the groundwork for long-term energy planning. The energy sector, however, is not governed by any laws or regulations. As a result, it is critical to developing an incentive as well as an appealing legal structure. Because of the importance of initial investment for investors, this framework is very crucial. A constant challenge with SIDS, as described by Surroop[6], is a lack of political will to begin significant change. Comoros is no different. The establishment of a true political agenda, together with power sector reorganization, would be the first step toward a decarbonized society in the short future. Furthermore, it appears that establishing an independent regulatory framework in which policy decisions and investments may be openly assessed to evaluate whether the established aims are being met is critical. As a result, the creation of a new framework should provide an economic incentive for the energy sector’s harmonic and long-term development. In a vulnerable area like Comoros, economic assistance mechanisms are required in addition to political aspirations to attain electrically self-sufficient islands[7]. Unfortunately, despite the 2017 Energy Conference, the first signs of such a transition have yet to emerge, and the 2017 ambitions have yet to be reflected in national legal frameworks. Therefore, Comoros, like many small islands, must forsake its monolithic energy policy. This strategy has proven structurally cumbersome for many years. To confront the problems of transformation, the country must adjust swiftly. The energy vulnerabilities of Comoros are threefold. To begin with, the high cost of carbon-based power (0.24e/kWh) is attributable to a malfunctioning distribution network. More than 40% of the losses are due to this bad state. These prices are currently the most expensive in the region. However, the region’s reliance on fossil fuels puts it sensitive to global market price swings. Finally, more than 65% of electricity generation is financed by the government. This assistance is impeding the area’s long-term growth. This is because other vital issues, such as access to clean water or mother and child health, are hampered by the energy sector’s resource constraints.


What steps are being taken in Comoros to address the present energy crisis?[8]

To offer basic services to the country, it is critical to address the energy crisis. In this sector, reforms are in the works. The African Development Bank’s (AfDB) choice to concentrate solely on the energy sector in its 2011-2015 country plan demonstrates improvement. They are, nevertheless, insufficient. As a result, the AfDB convened a high-level conference with the Comorian government as well as important technical and financial partners[9].

The Union of Comoros’ Vice President and Minister of Finance, as well as representatives from the public and private sectors, donors such as the World Bank and the Islamic Development Bank, and the AfDB President, will discuss strategic issues and questions related to the country’s energy sector’s long-term development. A high-level meeting was conducted at the African Development Bank headquarters in Abidjan seven years ago to consider solutions to Comoros’ energy crisis[10]. The importance of the private sector in the country’s ailing energy industry was underlined at the meeting.

First Vice President of the African Development Bank, Emmanuel Mbi, stated, “The AfDB is dedicated to assisting Comoros’ energy sector and advancing the coordination of development partners and private sector initiatives. Increased energy production and sustainable and equitable growth require the cooperation of the private sector.” Comoros suffers from a chronic energy shortage, which has hampered the country’s socio-economic progress”[11]. The country has the continent’s greatest energy loss rate and the lowest cost recovery rate. Only 33% of the energy sold is actually paid for, even though 48% of the electricity generated is lost. According to estimates from the Ministry of Energy, roughly 80% of the country is without power, and output levels are almost non-existent. Consumers have access to energy for only five hours every four days, while individuals in remote areas go a month without it. The country’s health sector is likewise being impacted by the energy crisis. The country’s largest public maternity hospital was without power, forcing it to close. “The generator that serves the facility failed, and the staff refused to work with candlelight.”

Woman gives birth on expressway after being kicked out of car - People's  Daily OnlineWomen are now giving birth in automobiles or elsewhere because they cannot afford to give birth at a private hospital, which is too expensive, according to Alfeine Siti Soifiat of the Comoros Planning Office.

The committee stated that numerous generators are out of operation due to lack of maintenance, high operating expenses, and frequent fuel shortages, among other flaws in the country’s power-producing systems. Abdou Nassur, the Minister of Energy, argued for a shift to alternative energy sources. “We can’t rely on a single energy source.” “To meet our country’s energy needs, we need more than one source,” he stated.

The African Association of Energy Producers, whose leader Hickem Jemai advocated for the use of coal because it is less expensive, also welcomed the diversity of energy sources. President Donald Kaberuka of the African Development Bank recently urged for the financing of coal-fired power facilities in a meeting with journalists in London. The use of geothermal energy is also being investigated. Development partners, energy business officials, and the private sector, among others, attended the AfDB and Comoros government’s high-level dialogue. The conference will act as a forum for building a framework for tackling the issues that Comoros’ energy industry is facing to strengthen its contribution to development.


Due to global concerns, Indian Ocean islands are becoming increasingly engaged in energy security and ecological issues. Comoros, like Madagascar, Mauritius, and La Reunion, has recently focused its efforts on converting to renewable energy across its whole territory. This article gives policymakers a detailed picture of Comoros’ energy status. Another goal of this article is to showcase the Comoros archipelago’s potential for incorporating renewable energy into its energy industry. Fossil fuels and hydropower are currently the main energy suppliers in Comoros. In the case of Comoros, some conclusions can be drawn. The first objective is to give an overview of the data and the potential for the development of renewable technologies in the Comoros archipelago. This first step allowed us to characterize the territory and build a reliable database that we are currently using to generate scenarios for Comoros’ electricity autonomy by 2050. One of the biggest issues we identified in 2017 was the availability and reliability of online information about the archipelago. As Dornan[12] points out, external assistance and national energy policies are the key elements that can shape the energy transition for SIDS. Comoros is not just sensitive to the consequences of climate change, but also to global energy price volatility due to its weak socioeconomic status. Furthermore, particularly in non-interconnected areas like Comoros, the link between energy and regional growth is obvious. Several studies have identified remoteness and a small population as barriers to development and energy transitions. A territory like Comoros provides an excellent opportunity to develop new energy policies that promote the use of renewable energy sources. In contrast to Europe’s monolithic energy governance frameworks, the consequences of urgent decisions in Comoros will have a swift impact on the country[13]. As a result, the Union of Comoros must diversify its energy mix as quickly as feasible by using renewable energy sources. According to this article, the three islands have the potential to develop solar, biomass, wind, and geothermal energy. This, however, demands the establishment of both regulatory and investment incentives. These developments will need the creation of a proactive energy strategy that allows for the setting of short- and medium-term targets within the energy planning framework. Further research will strengthen the development of this potential by defining energy scenarios. By 2050, one will be able to propose a steady evolution of the energy mix based on these and later findings.

[1] D. Surroop, P. Raghoo, “Energy landscape in Mauritius”, Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 73 (2017) 688–694. doi:10.1016/j.rser.2017.01.175. URL

[2] J. P. Praene, M. H. Radanielina, V. R. Rakotoson, A. L. Andriamamonjy, F. Sinama, 22 D. Morau, H. T. Rakotondramiarana, “Electricity generation from renewables in Madagascar: Opportunities and projections”, Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 76 (2017) 1066–1079. doi:10.1016/j.rser.2017.03.125.

[3] F. B´enard-Sora, J. P. Praene, “Territorial analysis of energy consumption of a small remote island: Proposal for classification and highlighting consumption profiles”, Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 59 (2016) 636–648. doi:10.1016/j.rser.2016.01.008. URL

[4] M. de l’énergie des Comores, Rapport des assises nationales de l’energie, Tech. rep., Gouvernemnent Union des Comores (2017).

[5] U. des Comores, Rapport des assises nationales de l’énergie en Union des Comores, Tech. rep., Comoros (2017).

[6] D. Surroop, P. Raghoo, F. Wolf, K. U. Shah, P. Jeetah, “Energy access in small island developing states: Status, barriers and policy measures”, Environmental Development 27 (2018) 58–69. doi:10.1016/j.envdev.2018.07.003. URL

[7] Y. Simsek, A. Lorca, T. Urmee, P. A. Bahri, R. Escobar, “Review and assessment of energy policy developments in Chile”, Energy Policy 127 (2019) 87–101. doi:10.1016/j.enpol.2018.11.058. URL


[9] AfDB convened a high-level meeting on March 25 in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Discussions to reform ailing energy industry in the Comoros, 27-Mar-2015.

[12] M. Dornan, K. U. Shah, “Energy policy, aid, and the development of renewable energy resources in Small Island Developing States”, Energy Policy 98 (2016) 759–767. doi:10.1016/j.enpol.2016.05.035.

[13] A. Ioannidis, K. J. Chalvatzis, X. Li, G. Notton, P. Stephanides, “The case for islands’ energy vulnerability: Electricity supply diversity in 44 global islands”, Renewable Energy 143 (2019) 440–452.

doi:10.1016/j.renene.2019.04.155. URL

Sustainable development: the African journey towards sustainability

Sustainable development: the African journey towards sustainability


Sustainable development (SD) has increasingly played a key background role in government policy making across the world, especially for the least developed countries in Africa. This paper examines the SD of African countries in public life, education, and welfare, and helps policy makers better monitor the status of SD and formulate development policies in these aspects. The paper first proposes a new method to assess the SD in public life, education, and welfare. Then it assesses and analyzes the Sustainable Development of African countries. The findings of this paper are situated both in the context of prior studies and in relation to opportunities for further academic study. The findings however reveal three issues: first, that there was a positive correlation between income level and SD across African countries; second, that the most SD leading countries were in South and North Africa, while most low SD countries were in the middle; and third, that there were different characteristics of SD status between North African and Sub-Saharan African countries. This paper discusses an important research question that needed to be discussed: What should Africa do to rectify its development trajectory and to make economic development more inclusive? And made comparison between African countries and the countries in other continents. This paper suggests the following possible recommendations. First, the basis of all development is the establishment of a stable political power for those countries still in political chaos. Second, following the practices of European and other developed countries, establishing and improving the judicial, economic, and fiscal institutional systems in combination with the characteristics and development situation of their own countries is vital. After that, taking economic growth as the priority of national development, and establishing economic and trade cooperation with Europe, the United States, China, and other more developed countries is needed. Lastly, the government should pay more attention to sustainable development in public life, education, and welfare when the economic and income level reaches a certain stage.

Keywords: Sustainable development (SD), Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), environmental sustainability


Sustainability-related efforts remain central to development, and their accomplishment varies across places for a variety of reasons including climatic and geographic differences. This variability makes a regional focus important[1]. With the adoption of the SDGs in September 2015, Africa made commitments to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Africa Union Agenda 2063. It always faced a steep climb, its starting point being lower than the rest of the world’s. The continent was at a crossroads, with low tax revenues in relation to GDP at one end of the problem and enormous development needs at the other. The SDGs were conceptualized and adopted during a period of tight global economic and financial conditions. Recent analysis of the SDGs, including the previous Sustainable Development Goal Centre for Africa (SDGCA) reports on the 2030 Agenda and the first Africa SDG Index 2018, shows that African countries still lag in terms of achieving the SDGs, with different countries facing different problems.[2]

Despite the widespread adoption of, and the progress toward the SDGs, Africa continues to lag in most of the world when it comes to social and economic development. In fact, a recent report by the SDGCA — “Africa 2030: Sustainable Development Goals Three-Year Reality Check”—reveals that minimal progress has been made and, in some instances, there is complete stagnation. More than half of the global poor (those who earn under $1.90 PPP per day) are found in Africa. One in three Africans is at the risk of food insecurity (Begashaw 2019). According to Begashaw, Africa is relatively on track to meet three goals: SDG 5 (gender equality), SDG 13 (climate action), and SDG 15 (life on land). In fact, the SDG Centre’s forecasts (for the SDGs for which we have sufficient data: poverty, malnutrition, maternal mortality, net school enrolment, access to electricity, and access to drinking water) show that all African regions except North Africa are unlikely to meet the SDGs. The struggle is more pronounced for Central Africa across all the goals.

Economic Growth and Human Development Gaps

The region’s growth over the SDG period was well below the SDG target of 7 percent per year and below the historical long-term average. In 2016—the year after the adoption of the SDGs—the sub-Saharan African region’s growth dropped to 1.4 percent. Globalization (migration, trade, and finance) has been under pressure or even reversing; China’s growth, which historically has been positively correlated with Africa’s, has decelerated in recent years; global trade growth has also dwindled; commodity prices remain depressed; and climatic conditions remain unfavourable. At the same time, social inclusion continues to be outstripped by population growth, impeding structural transformation and future productivity. Twenty-eight African countries are categorized as low income and 37 as having low human development (Begashaw 2019).

A child born in Africa today is still at risk of not receiving a full, high-quality education or decent health care. An African child in school today continues to struggle to read and write due to poor quality of education services. Too many Africans continue not to visit the hospital due to lack of money. In fact, some African countries have a Human Capital Index score of less than 0.4. In other words, a child born today in these countries will be only 40 percent as productive at 18 years of age as one who completes their education and enjoys full health.

Data Gaps Persist: While we do have a snapshot of the progress Africa (and the world) is making towards achieving the SDGs, a holistic review of SDGs over the last years was not possible given that not enough data exists. In fact, only 96 indicators have data (41.4 percent of the global indicator framework). Where data exists, it is not comprehensive and consistent. Too often, African countries do not possess updated data for crucial indicators in poverty, health, nutrition, education, and infrastructure. Household surveys are irregular: Their scope, comprehensiveness, quantity, and quality vary wildly. At the continental level, there is just not enough data for tracking SDGs 10, 11, and 12 (Begashaw 2019). This paper however reveals that education is the most important factor for sustainable development in public life, education, and welfare. And education is as important as health.


The Assessment Framework of SD in Public Life, Education, and Welfare[3]

Sustainable development in public life, education, and welfare was assessed by adopting the social dimension of the National Sustainable Development Index (NSDI) that was built with 12 indicators in economic, social, and environmental dimensions based on the concept of sustainable development (see Jin et al. (2021))[4]. Sustainable development is to coordinate socio-economic, and environmental development, and balance the intra-generational welfare, to maximize the total welfare of generations[5] [6]. In other words, the government should set sustainable development as a comprehensive goal including economic, social, and environmental dimensions[7]. Governments should also pursue a relatively high and fair income for citizens, a potential for economic growth, and a reasonable economic structure to improve the welfare of the present generation, in the economic dimension. From the resource and environmental dimension, the climate and air quality not only reflect the living conditions and quality of human beings in the present generation, but also affect that of future generations, while forests, arable land, and energy consumption represent the current resource and environmental conditions and affect the performance of economic activities. And in the social dimension, governments should not only improve social welfare, but should also consider social fairness and harmony, thus education for the young, medical treatment for the sick, basic sanitation, and drinking water should be guaranteed. Therefore, Jin et al suggest that the NSDI should contain these factors, namely “economic growth,” “income level,” and “economic structure” in the economic dimension, “climate,” “air quality,” “forest,” “arable land,” and “energy” in the resource and environmental dimension, and “education,” “health,” “drinking water,” and “sanitation facilities” in the social dimension. And they should select the corresponding indicators for each factor, based on the principles of representativeness, comparability, and data availability. So, we choose the social dimension of the NSDI to study the SD in public life, education, and welfare for Africa countries.


This paper measures the weight of four indicators with the entropy method (see the last column of Table 1 below). As a result, each indicator accounted for the following weight: education 36.36%, health 35.09%, drinking water 14.60%, and sanitation facilities 13.95%. It means that education is the most important factor for sustainable development in public life, education, and welfare. And education is as important as health.

This paper measures the weight of four indicators with the entropy method (see the last column of Table 1 below). As a result, each indicator accounted for the following weight: education 36.36%, health 35.09%, drinking water 14.60%, and sanitation facilities 13.95%. It means that education is the most important factor for sustainable development in public life, education, and welfare. And education is as important as health.

Table 1. The weight of the four indicators

According to the weights in Table 1, we aggregate the four indicators into a composite index, and assess the SD score for 51 Africa countries as well the other countries (see Table 2 below). As a result, the SD score of each country is ranged from 0 to 1. The SD score of each Africa country is shown in Table 2, the top five countries are Mauritius (0.6514), Gabon (0.5836), Gambia (0.5648), Morocco (0.5496), and Togo (0.5474), while the bottom five countries are Mali (0.3863), Mauritania (0.3857), Central African Republic (0.3377), Chad (0.3260), and Niger (0.3031).

Table 2. The score of SD in public life, education, and welfare in Africa[]

The SD score of each country showed distinct characteristics in income level. These countries are divided into four categories according to income levels following the World Bank’s standard, namely high, upper-middle, lower-middle-, and low-income countries. As Table 2 shows, countries with higher SD score tended to have a higher income level. For example, there are only three low-income countries in the top 20, while 13 low-income countries are in the bottom 20. This means that there may be a positive correlation between income level and SD score. The main reasons are: (1) Those low-income countries have very limited fiscal revenue, leading to insufficient supply of public goods, such as education, medical care, public health, etc.[8]; (2) Some low-income countries lack a systematic and efficient public management system, which makes the supply of public goods inefficient[9].

Figure 1. Geographical distribution of SD scores in Africa. (1) The darker the blue, the higher the SD score of the country, while grey indicates missing data. (2) Above the dark blue dividing line are North African countries, and below are Sub-Saharan African countries.

Figure 1 shows the geographical distribution of SD score in Africa. It should be noted that the darker the blue, the higher the SD score and SD performance in public life, education, and welfare. The countries in North and South Africa have the deepest blue and the highest SD score, such as South Africa and Morocco. On the contrary, central African countries north of the equator have the lightest blue and the lowest SD score, which means that SD performance is at the bottom level, such as in Central African Republic, Chad, and Niger. In sum, the geographical distribution of SD score shows that SD is high in South and North Africa, while low in the middle.

Africa need to adopt a new development trajectory

African youths did not benefit from the recent economic growth, since many of them either lack the relevant training or are unable to access capital to improve production. Nevertheless, Africa accounts for a significant fraction of the world’s youth (1/5th in 2012).[10] This share is expected to increase to 1/3rd of global youth by 2050. If Africa wants to benefit from the potential demographic dividend over the coming decades, it will be crucial to empower its youth with the relevant skills to meet the continent’s future job market needs. In today’s labour market, the transition from school to work is already challenging. Youth unemployment/underemployment rates are two to three times as high as those of adults. The “Arab Springs” demonstrated that youth unemployment might be a “ticking time bomb” if the transition from school continues to lead to unemployment.[11] Youths face challenges when searching for wage employment, in both the formal and the informal sectors. Governments need to make the appropriate supply-side responses to improve both the quantity and quality of education and skills training. This will require collaboration between governments and the private sector in order to create an enabling macroeconomic employment environment. In addition, because of the high prevalence of informality in Africa, a further challenge will be to find an effective way to harness the potential of youth entrepreneurs.[12]

The recent growth performance in Africa did not help to address issues of inequality resulting in the exclusion of both women and youth from the benefits of growth. Therefore, inequality and poverty are still Africa’s major challenges. These need to be addressed in order to achieve the SDGs. Over 120 million Africans are out of work, and more than 672 million live in poverty. Consequently, Sub-Saharan Africa is the region with the highest prevalence of hunger: With one in four people being undernourished; More than 32 million children under-five are underweight; and, about 45% of deaths in children under-five are caused by poor nutrition (FAO, 2015). In addition, out of Africa’s 312 million adult women, 115 million are at risk of domestic violence. This disrupts their productive and reproductive roles as well as being a clear violation of their human rights. Therefore, achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) remains unfinished business for most African countries. The solution proposed is to adopt a development trajectory that is both more inclusive and sustainable.

What should Africa do to rectify its development trajectory and to make economic development more inclusive?

A new development trajectory should enable Africa to provide decent jobs, including most of the youth and women. It also needs to produce enough food for Africa’s population, especially the most vulnerable. To do so, Africa needs to industrialize, but this requires that the continent to first resolve some of its major deficits. One priority is to address the infrastructural deficit, especially the energy deficiency. Without energy, nothing else can happen. Energy fuels economic activities, especially production, industrialisation and the delivery of services. The continent will also need to resolve important shortfalls in its labour market, labour productivity and costs, and the adequacy of skilled labour for market needs, especially in the industrial and manufacturing sectors. Another important priority for Africa will be to expand domestic market sizes in order to benefit from potential economies of scale across the continent. This can be achieved by increasing intra-regional trade so that Africans can feed themselves, instead of allocating most of their income to imports from mainly western and emerging markets. Adopting such a development trajectory will lead to a real structural transformation in the continent and, thereby, to improvements in the living conditions of many of Africa’s poor people. These are precisely the priorities of the African Development Bank for the next decade.

Discussion: A Comparison Between Africa and Other Countries [13]

The SD scores of 179 countries are shown in Figure 2. As a result, the top 10 countries are Denmark (0.7840), the Netherlands (0.7423), Sweden (0.7095), Finland (0.7075), Norway (0.6960), Germany (0.6915), Canada (0.6895), the United States (0.6856), Belgium (0.6807), and Austria (0.6799), while the bottom 10 countries are Nepal (0.3980), Eritrea (0.3959), Sierra Leone (0.3952), Mali (0.3863), Mauritania (0.3857), Afghanistan (0.3729), Yemen (0.3391), Central African (0.3377), Chad (0.3260), and Niger (0.3031).

Figure 2. SD score for each country (upper) and continent (lower). The darker the blue, the higher the mean SD score of the country (upper) or the continent (lower).

The SD score and ranking of each country show distinct characteristics. Most of the high-SD countries are in Europe and North America. The countries with a low SD score are mainly in Africa and Asia. In addition, we find that all the developed countries [14] [15] are high SD score countries, and most of them are ranked in the top 30, while most of the bottom 30 countries are developing countries in Africa.

There are three main reasons for the poor SD performance in developing countries. First, the level of economy and residents’ income is relatively low. Second, the supply of public goods and services is insufficient and inefficient, like education, public health, and environmental protection, due to poor governments or inadequate fiscal revenue[16]. Lastly, some developing countries, such as China, are bombarded with such problems as inadequate management and technology of pollution control and resource utilization, while still promoting economic growth at all costs, which damages national sustainable development[17].

The geographical distribution of the SD score is shown in Figure 2. As the figure shows, the darker the blue, the higher the NSDI of the country and the better its performance in sustainable development, while the white indicates missing data. We find that European and North American countries have the highest average SD scores, Africa the lowest, and South America and Asia in the middle.

There is an important reason for that geographical distribution. On the one hand, the countries with a higher economic level always maintain a good performance in sustainable development, because of their established and sound system in public management. On the other hand, those low-income countries not only have a poor economic foundation, but also do not have the above conditions, so they always find it difficult to improve SD performance. Some countries have even been mired in war and extreme poverty.


Overall, the problems highlighted in this paper, future growth in Africa will, for most part, depend on successes in diversifying towards highly productive manufacturing and improving the productive capabilities of African economies through science and technology, especially in agriculture and agro industrialisation. Achieving these ends calls for increasing investment in key growth determinants such as physical and human capital, and improvement in the institutions that optimize the combination of these resources. To this extent, investment in energy for people and for firms, in agricultural technology, and in other infrastructure and human capital needs will remain priority areas for the Bank. Making growth more inclusive requires enhancing the capacity of segments of society with limited opportunity to participate and benefit from the continent’s growth. The Bank’s prioritized intervention areas are selected with this in mind. An industrial process that is underpinned by improved agricultural productivity, accessible and reliable sources of energy and well-integrated markets will generally contribute to poverty reduction by raising productivity and improving the level of participation among the poor and other marginalized groups.

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[11] Ibid.

[12] Ibid.


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