Exploited and excluded for generations, African states are now facing new injustices – many of which have escalated since the start of the Sustainable Development Goals – and an incredible struggle to deliver children’s basic rights. The world has so far ignored the scale and severity of this crisis and millions of Africa’s children are bearing the heavy cost of this systemic discrimination.
In February 2022, Laureates and Leaders for Children mobilised in advance of the Sixth European Union-African Union Summit, and released a Joint Statement signed by 95 Nobel Laureates and world leaders. The statement demanded ‘Justice for Africa’s Children’, and identified the impact of the enduring injustices which trap families and nations in cyclic poverty, forcing children out of school and into child labour, child marriage, and slavery, and which allow millions of children under the age of 5 to die every year from preventable causes.
None of this should be happening: the world has never been wealthier – global GDP in 2021 is the highest on record. Despite two global economic disasters in just 15 years, the wealth of the richest citizens and countries keeps increasing at an unbelievable rate. This rate becomes shameful when compared with the decreasing rate in sub Saharan Africa, where GDP per capita is lower in 2021 than it was in 2011. When the exploitation of Africa’s abundant natural resources and its poorest citizens to create much of the increase in global wealth is considered, the disparity is grotesque. This report analyses data across numerous sectors and presents irrefutable evidence of the modern day global economic injustices faced by Africa and her children in just the last seven years, which have cost trillions of dollars – and millions of lives.
Why Focus on Africa?
Laureates and Leaders for Children identified that the worst impacts of recent, discriminatory decisions taken by the international community would be felt by Africa’s 650 million children and undertook an analysis of the latest data from different sectors. The evidence is clear: regardless of global progress on children’s rights since the start of the SDGs, the situation in Africa is in reverse. Efforts to increase education enrolment and retention and to decrease child labour, extreme poverty, and stunted growth due to malnutrition had made some progress in Africa, but in the last decade injustice for Africa’s children has been increasing. This report builds on the concerns and demands raised by Laureates and Leaders for Children during the Sixth EU-AU Summit. It presents the stark reality of the unfair treatment and subsequent financial and human costs of discrimination, and identifies ambitious yet tangible solutions to accelerate justice for all of Africa’s children.
What has Change for Africa’s Children?
Global wealth has increased significantly since the Sustainable Development Goals were agreed in September 2015; despite the pandemic-related drop in 2020, 2021 global GDP was the highest it has ever been.3 Yet this increase in wealth has gone hand in hand with a massive increase in child suffering across Africa. Since the start of the SDGs, the number of child labourers in the world has fallen but in Africa it has increased by over 20 million.4 In the same period, the number of children out of school reduced in the world, but the number of African children out of school rose by more than 12 million.
These appalling increases are a result of the dramatically unfair share of growth Africa has received. While the rest of the world has broadly seen increases in wealth since 2016, Africa has seen a substantial decrease in GDP per capita and, by not growing at the same rate as other countries, sub-Saharan Africa has lost $898.7 billion in the 2016-2021 period alone.
The injustice becomes more stark when the picture is broadened: since 1981 wealth per person across high income countries has increased more every ten weeks than it has in Africa in the entire last 40 years. This is being made worse by the sharp increase in the number of people in Africa living on less than $2.15 since the start of the SDGs.
Download full report here.