Maitreyi Bordia Das
Sabina Anne Espinoza
African countries have seen impressive gains in health, nutrition, education, and women’s empowerment over recent years and the pace of progress in some areas has been faster in Africa than in any other region. Innovation abounds in Africa and is reflected in multiple areas – in the next generation of social safety nets; in new platforms providing services to remote and fragile communities; in the spread of digital technology; and in advocacy movements, bringing previously ostracized people into public acceptance.
While positive developments in Africa hold promise, the continent still faces major development challenges – from poverty reduction to overcoming fragility and managing the growing impacts of climate change. Where there have been development gains, many groups of people have not benefited from them. Who are these groups? And why have they not benefited equitably from progress and development? Why are they more likely to be poor or lack human capital? The answer to many of these questions is social exclusion.
In 2013, the World Bank published the global flagship report Inclusion Matters: The Foundation for Shared Prosperity, which helped guide us towards better analysis and actions to combat social exclusion. Inclusion Matters in Africa draws upon the global report, as Africa finds itself at the center of rapid social and economic change, with the potential for even greater transformation. This report on Africa resonates with the main message of the Sustainable Development Goals: to leave no one behind. It complements the World Bank Group’s strategy for Africa which has placed added emphasis on social inclusion through a focus on building human capital, advancing women’s empowerment, strengthening the digital economy, combating climate change, and addressing the underlying drivers of fragility.
Inclusion Matters in Africa tells us that peace and security are inexorably linked to social inclusion. And that while we need to focus on reducing poverty, this is still not enough to end the exclusion of some individuals and groups. It draws attention to the structures and processes that drive social exclusion, too often conditioning people’s attitudes, perceptions, feelings, and behaviors.