KABANDA CHULU, Lusaka
OXFAM International executive director Winnie Byanyima says there cannot be inclusive growth if inequality is not addressed.
She said decades of unprecedented economic growth have bypassed millions of Africans.
Ms Byanyima challenged African business and political leaders to build economies that are designed to end poverty and inequality.
“Instead of presiding over an economic system that panders to big business and a wealthy elite, a more human economy must be established, which meets the needs of African women and young people,” she said in a statement.
She said the importance of tackling inequality in Africa cannot be overstated.
“Inequality is undermining growth and threatens to reverse the gains that have been made in the fight against poverty. Four of the world’s five most unequal countries are in Africa. In South Africa, three billionaires own the same wealth as the poorest half of the population [around 28 million people].
“Inequality cannot be solved by tweaking our current economic model. A fundamental change in how we manage our economies and who we manage them for is needed,” Ms Byanyinma said.
She said agriculture is the main source of income for 90 percent of Africa’s rural population but only 10 out of 44 African countries have delivered on their promise to spend 10 percent of their national budgets on agriculture.
“If the priorities are ending poverty and inequality, governments should foster business models that share the benefits of economic success more fairly rather than corporations that churn out profits for wealthy shareholders regardless of the impact on workers, the environment and society,” Ms Byanyima said.
She advised African governments to create tax systems that ensures big business and the richest in society pay their fair share of tax.
“African countries lose billions every year because of tax dodging by big corporations and wealthy individuals. They lose billions more from overly generous tax incentives in a misguided belief that this is the only way to attract foreign investment,” Ms Byanyima said.