About Africa


Africa's estimated economic growth in 2015


of Sub-Saharan Africans living in extreme poverty


Additional number of Africans, in billions, by 2050


share of agriculture in Africa's employment


of Sub-Saharan Africa's unemployed are youth


increase in African mobile phone subscribers between 2000 and 2012


In millions, the number of Africans who could face water shortages by 2020


the proportion of seats held by women in national parliaments in Africa

About Sub-Saharan Africa

Africa at a turning point

Aerial view of Abidjan, Cote d'IvoireAerial view of Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire. Photo: UNDP


Sub-Saharan Africa has put its lost decades behind and made significant strides on the social, political and economic fronts since the turn of the 21st century.

There have been rapid democratic transitions, leading to more responsive and accountable governments. Overall, the frequency of armed conflicts seems to be on a downward trend. Steady economic growth and macroeconomic stability have returned. The private sector is flourishing in the agricultural sector, as well as telecommunications, finance, retail trade, housing and construction, while the continent’s middle class is now booming.

In addition, new technologies are spreading rapidly across the continent, leading to considerable progress in the areas of information and communication. Discoveries of oil, gas, and other mineral resources are creating new opportunities.  There have also been considerable improvements in human development. Africa’s levels of extreme poverty have decreased since 1999, with expanded social policies also improving health and education services – including those targeting women and girls.

Still, the African Union’s vision of building an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa faces many obstacles and challenges Countries in Africa are operating at different speeds: some are growing strongly, reaching Middle Income Country Status and investing in economic diversification, integration with the global economy and human development. Others remain stuck in conflict and other crises, chronic poverty and low capacity.

In many countries, economic growth has not benefited the poorest, and women’s participation in decision-making remains very low. Rapid urbanisation leaves cities unable to provide services such as housing, security, infrastructure and jobs.

Further, an increasing number of youth are without adequate skills or jobs. Climate change, natural and man-made disasters risk undoing years of hard-won development gains, and limited access to affordable and sustainable energy impedes productivity.

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