East Africa and the African continent – latest developments on the African continent (continued – part 3)

TextileFuture concludes the series on East Africa with some information on all of Africa. It is less textile oriented, but it will offer some important other facts of the recent developments in Africa and the future of the continent. Among is a blog by David Lipton from IMF and graphs and short texts from OECD on Africa’s urbanisation, containing many important figures on the different areas and nations. Also, we will bring to your attention an opportunity in Africa, described by The Hong Kong Development Council’s Research arm. In addition we publish a report by McKinsey on the power of parity: Advancing women’s equality in Africa.

Here starts the third part:

How US Aid is evaluating East Africa

Economic Growth and Trade

Some of the world’s poorest nations are in East Africa.  In these regions, economic growth is constrained by poor infrastructure, unreliable power, low agricultural productivity, poor governance, and lack of market competitiveness.  In response, USAID supports East African countries to address these limiting factors.  We often collaborate with the private sector. Our partnerships with the private sector are across many sectors.  We use their innovations to increase trade, access reliable power, attract investments, create jobs, and increase food security.

Stimulating economic growth in East Africa enhances growth opportunities in the U.S.  A stable, prosperous region also reduces migration and decreases violent extremism.  USAID removes barriers to regional trade and promotes two-way trade with the United States.  We collaborate with regional government institutions to harmonize policies and regulations. This standardization stimulates the movement of goods, services, people, and money.  Trade of coffee, cotton, textiles, apparel, staple foods, and horticulture are common in this region.


Delivering on Africa’s Dreams

By guest author David Lipton the First Deputy Managing Director at IMF,

David Lipton

David Lipton is the IMF’s First Deputy Managing Director, a position he has held since 2011. Prior to joining the IMF, he was Special Assistant to President Clinton, and served as Senior Director for International Economic Affairs at the National Economic Council and the National Security Council at the White House. He also served in the Clinton Administration first as Assistant Secretary, then as Undersecretary of the Treasury for International Affairs. Before that, he was a managing director at Citi, and has held senior positions at Moore Capital Management, a global hedge fund, and at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He was also a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center of Scholars.

All captions courtesy by IMF

From 1989 to 1992, Mr. Lipton teamed with Professor Jeffrey Sachs, then at Harvard University, to serve as economic advisers to the governments of Russia, Poland, and Slovenia during their transitions to capitalism.

Mr. Lipton holds a Ph.D. and M.A. from Harvard University, and a B.A. from Wesleyan University.

Across sub-Saharan Africa, a visit to a school offers both a vision of hope for the future, and a reminder of the difficulties in attaining that vision. My recent visit to Sierra Leone and Niger brought this duality into sharp focus.

In Sierra Leone, classrooms at the Regent Square Municipal School showcase the government’s ambitious Free Quality Education program that aims to build on the country’s most precious resource – its children. There, eager students are attentive and diligent, but their education is constrained by large classes, overburdened and undertrained teachers, and a shortage of educational materials.

Meanwhile, in Niger, there is also a great drive for change. At a research centre on the edge of the Sahel Desert, scientists are working on high-tech solutions to tackle malaria and climate change. But, only a few miles away, students of all ages are getting basic education in schoolhouses made of straw, in classrooms with blackboards but few books.

Education and technology to drive change

Despite the challenges, what left the strongest impression was the focus on education as the driver of change, and the openness to use technology to achieve that. It is a picture that offers promise for the future—especially if these countries can find new sources of funding at home and from abroad, and make imaginative use of technology to overcome resource shortfalls.

Sierra Leone emerged from a decade of civil war in 2002 and embarked on the road to recovery. It received USD 1.6 billion of debt relief and began mining massive iron ore deposits. Then, in 2014, Ebola devastated the country—along with neighbouring Guinea and Liberia—amid a collapse of global commodity prices. Sierra Leoneans now must make up for lost time.

Today, the government’s ambitious development program focuses on investing in infrastructure and human capital. Technology will be a key element of the plan; for example, using digitalization to evaluate educational progress. Minister for Basic and Senior Secondary Education, David Moinina Sengeh (who is also the government’s Chief Innovation Officer), is one of Africa’s leading intellectual lights. An MIT PhD who led artificial intelligence work at IBM, he directs the education portfolio, which is so essential for a country where over 40 % of the population is under 15 years of age.

Investing for the future

Investing in the country’s children and their education lies at the heart of Sierra Leone’s national development plan. This effort has the potential to raise GDP by 40 % in the coming decades and to reduce income inequality. That would make a big difference in a country where per capita GDP remains little more than USD 500, and over half the population lives in poverty.

But, how does a country secure the means to invest? A key task is to raise taxes in an evenhanded way, and make government spending more effective. Efforts to strengthen governance (including tackling corruption) will help on both scores. This is also one area where the IMF is working with Sierra Leone, providing training and other concrete support in areas such as revenue mobilization and tax management. Interestingly, Sierra Leone is addressing some of these problems by creating technological solutions using AI and machine learning.

While the international community stepped up during the Ebola crisis, in more recent years the level of aid has fallen short of past efforts. For example, Rwanda and Mozambique received grant aid amounting to around 8-9 % of GDP in the decade after the end of their civil conflicts. Yet in Sierra Leone today, such assistance has fallen to 2-3 % of GDP.

Challenges facing Niger

Niger is also facing daunting challenges. It has experienced strong growth in recent years, and crude oil exports are scheduled to begin in 2022. But with the world’s highest population growth rate (3.8 %, with more than 7 children per mother, and high child mortality), developing the nascent private sector and creating jobs is the top priority.

Worse yet, Niger faces two existential threats: military conflict and climate change. These are issues that it shares with neighbours across the Sahel.

Armed conflict is increasingly encroaching on Niger from terrorist groups from across its borders with Mali, Burkina Faso and Nigeria. Economically, for a country whose resources already are stretched thin, the need for high security expenditures complicates public finances, tying up money that otherwise could be used for Niger’s development.

As a predominantly agricultural economy that depends on modest annual rainfall, climate change is an ever-present reality for Niger. Temperatures in the Sahel are climbing 1.5 times faster than the global average, making rainfall erratic and wet seasons shorter. The UN estimates that 80 % of the Sahel’s farmland has become degraded.

Armed conflict and climate change are issues that should register with governments in advanced economies that are concerned about the rise of terrorism in North Africa and the flow of migrants from the region. There are common interests that link economic development and security, especially in Europe.

From aspirations to reality

Countries like Niger and Sierra Leone simply cannot be expected to go it alone. The UN Sustainable Development Goals depend on mobilizing both domestic and international resources to achieve the lofty targets established by the international community.

All it takes is a visit at the grassroots to understand how strong the aspirations are, and how important each advance can be. With added resources, these countries could accomplish even more, and make their aspirations a reality.



Africapolis, Mapping a New Urban Geography

Africa’s Urbanisation Dynamics 2020 provides detailed analyses of major African urbanisation dynamics placed within historical, environmental and political contexts. Covering the entire distribution of the urban network — from small towns and intermediary cities to large metropolitan regions — it develops more inclusive and targeted policy options that integrate local, national and regional scales of urban development in line with African realities.

Urban agglomeration network

Distance is a physical as well as a socio-economic concept. In general, social links between individuals increase as distance decreases. Similarly, proximity between urban agglomerations is a good indicator of the social, economic, cultural and political interactions between cities and their inhabitants. Agglomerations that are close to one another are more likely to have stronger physical and socio-economic links. Using the geographic co-ordinates of each of the nearly 7 500 urban agglomerations covered by Africapolis, it is possible to connect pairs of cities based on the physical distance between them to show patterns of connectivity and distance.

A total of 320 162 pairings are made by connecting all urban agglomerations that are 120 kilometres or less from one another. Although this sounds like a large number, only 1.2 % of all potential connections are made at this distance, with strong differences across agglomerations and across clusters of agglomerations. Cairo (Egypt), for example, connects to 551 agglomerations; Lagos (Nigeria) connects to 90 agglomerations and Kinshasa (DR Congo) connects to 15 agglomerations (the 120 km are measured from centre to centre and hence a bias against large urban agglomerations exists).

The map reveals the regions with high-density clusters of urban agglomerations (with a very high number of agglomerations and connections): a North African cluster, a Nile River cluster, a Gulf of Guinea cluster, an Ethiopian Highland cluster, a Great Lakes cluster and a South African cluster. The Gulf of Guinea cluster has 3 908 connected urban agglomerations (including Lagos); the Nile River cluster, with Cairo and Alexandria, has 1 048 connected urban agglomerations. There are also 121 less visible clusters with fewer than five agglomerations each and 82 urban agglomerations (1.1% of the total) have no connections at a distance of 120 kilometres or less (mostly located in the Sahara and Kalahari Deserts).

Map: Urban agglomeration networks connecting each pair of cities located at a distance of 120 kilometres or less.

Africapolis: Mapping a new reality

Africapolis.org is the only comprehensive and standardised geospatial database on cities and urbanisation dynamics in Africa.

Combining demographic sources, satellite and aerial imagery, and other cartographic sources, it is designed to enable comparative and long-term analyses of urban dynamics—covering all 7 617 agglomerations in 50 countries.

It reveals the existence of hundreds of urban agglomerations that are not recorded in official statistics, shedding light on the singular reality of urbanisation and urban growth in Africa.

Shaping Africa’s Urban Future together :A new urban geography

What is driving urbanisation in Africa today? An unprecedented pace of urbanisation

In 2015, more than 50 % of Africans lived in one of the continent’s 7 617 urban agglomerations compared to only 13 % in 1950.

Least-connected urban areas

Ninety percent of the least connected agglomerations are in the Sahara and Kalahari Desert. The map is based on the size of an agglomeration’s Voronoi cell. The Voronoi cell is based on a nearest neighbour calculation – the closest agglomeration is inside the cell. Larger cells indicate a less dense urban network.

Distance to national metropoles

The map shows the distance of all urban agglomerations to one of the national African metropoles. Africapolis identifies 67 national metropoles, accounting for one-third of the total urban population (183 million). The hierarchy of national urban systems are characterised by the large size of metropoles relative to intermediary cities, and high primacy indices relative to the rest of the world.

All African countries’ urban networks are dominated by at least one metropole. In Angola, the population of the capital Luanda (7 million) equals the combined population of the next 27 largest agglomerations. In Sudan, Khartoum has as many inhabitants, 5.3 million, as the country’s 248 smallest agglomerations combined (out of a total of 301 agglomerations). These metropoles, in some countries two (e.g. Burkina Faso, Congo, Ghana), or three agglomerations (South Africa), dominate national urban hierarchies. Their exceptional size reflects their dominant position as economic and political centres and their role as interface between the national and global levels. The disparity is therefore quantitative and qualitative.

67 national metropoles account for an average of 51 % of their countries’ total national urban populations. In 10 countries, this share exceeds 66 % of the total urban population, and more than 80 % in Cabo Verde, Djibouti, Eswatini and Sao Tome and Principe. The metropolitan concentration tends to be higher in countries with small areas and population sizes and low levels of urbanisation. A notable exception is South Sudan with the lowest share of metropolitan population in Africa (11 %). South Sudan gained independence only in 2008 and the political system remains fragile, providing little time for Juba to establish a dominant position within the urban system.

In countries with large urban populations and more developed urban networks, the relative weight of metropoles tends to be smaller and to decrease. This is the case for instance in Algeria, Egypt, Morocco and Nigeria. Also, countries with large urban populations can have more than one metropole. In South Africa, besides the huge industrial and mining conurbation of Johannesburg, the port cities of Durban and Cape Town are also important metropoles. In Nigeria, the two metropoles besides the former capital Lagos are Abuja and Kano. These metropoles correspond to three major historical settlement areas —Yoruba, Igbo and Haussa —and play a dominant role in the country’s political structure.

The agglomerations between 300 000 and 1 million inhabitants accounted for only 13 % of the population of Africa, compared with 17 % for metropolitan agglomerations. The dominance of national metropoles combined with the proliferation of small towns is explaining the relative weakness of intermediary cities. The stability of the growth of metropolises contrasts with the more irregular evolution of the population of intermediary agglomerations. Over the long term, and even for as short a period as the post-independence period, the trajectory of population growth in metropolitan agglomerations has been characterised by its persistence and relative regularity. However, the combined population of intermediary agglomerations is growing faster than that of metropoles. This is due to the fact that their number grows faster: four-fifths of the agglomerations identified in 2015 were villages or did not exist in 1960. One of the consequences of these developments is that the main discontinuity of contemporary African settlement is not between “urban” and “rural”, but between metropolises and intermediary urban agglomerations. The vast majority of urbanisation studies focus on large cities, whose population figures are the most—if not the only—accessible figures. Agglomerations with 500 000 inhabitants are thus considered as “small cities”, whereas they are in the top 2 % of agglomerations in the Africapolis database. A clear distinction between “metropolitan” and “intermediary” agglomerations and their documentation is crucial for urban strategies and policies and for the implementation of appropriate land use planning.

Cross-border agglomerations in Africa

Interactions between cities are usually stronger the closer they are. In Africa, cities in close proximity are often located across the border from one another. These “cross-border cities” are an important feature of the continent’s urban landscape.

Interactions between cities are usually stronger the closer they are. In Africa, cities in close proximity are often located across the border from one another. These “cross-border cities” are an important feature of the continent’s urban landscape.

This map shows all 635 cross-border cities in Africa that are less than 40 kilometres from another urban agglomeration in a neighbouring country. More than 42 million people (similar to the population of Spain) or almost 8 % of the total urban population of the continent live in these agglomerations.

Six of these have more than one million inhabitants, including Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the continent’s fifth largest city with 7.3 million inhabitants. The others are Lome (Togo), Brazzaville (Congo), N’Djamena (Chad), Gisenyi (Rwanda) and Bujumbura (Burundi).

There are 47 cross-border cities at less than ten kilometres from one another as is the case of Kinshasa and Brazzaville, the capital of Congo.

Africa has ten national capitals that are located at a national border: Bangui, Brazzaville, Bujumbura, Gaborone, Kinshasa, Lomé, Maseru, Mbabane, Ndjamena, Porto Novo.

However, this cross-border dimension is very unequally distributed across Africa. North Africa for example only has 19 “cross-border cities” in total and large swatches of southern Africa have only a few smaller “cross-border cities”.

In the Great Lakes region and in West Africa, cross-border agglomerations are an important feature of the urban network. In Burundi, 27 out of all 33 agglomerations are cross-border. In Benin, Gambia, Lesotho, Swaziland and Togo, more than half of all agglomerations are cross-border.


Sun shines on Africa

In sunny regions, solar power is significantly cheaper than any other electricity source, and Africa is set to be one of the primary beneficiaries. 

As the world shifts to green energy, sunny Africa stands to gain as many countries in the region are installing solar power infrastructure and leapfrogging past fossil-fuel generation.

Hong Kong-based exporters of both goods and services are in a good position to take advantage of this shift, sitting as they do on the doorstep of Mainland China, the world’s main provider of solar-generation equipment. Rapid electrification in Africa brings another boon to the city’s exporters – a previously untapped market for their main group of exports, electronic goods.

In another boost to solar in Africa, the continent’s leading renewable generator, South Africa, has decided to streamline regulations on green power which will greatly expand the market for solutions.

Sun shines on snowy Alp

The global shift away from fossil fuels and sharp drop in prices of green power generation technologies (especially photovoltaic solar) has led to an exponential increase in solar-power generation over the past decade, the World Economic Forum (WEF) noted in a report released last month. The WEF said solar power generation had been seeing plunging costs and increasing efficiencies since 2010, and would soon be far cheaper than fossil-fuel generation.

“Back in 2010, the global market was small and highly dependent on subsidy regimes in countries such as Germany and Italy,” the report said. “This year there will be more than 115 gigawatts (GW) of solar installed across the world, which is more than all other generation technologies put together. It is also increasingly low-cost, especially in sunnier regions where it has already become the lowest-cost form of new electricity generation.”

This trend is likely to continue, the report said. “It could well be that by 2030, solar will have become the most important source of energy for electricity production in a large part of the world.”

Costs could halve by 2030, having already dropped sharply in the past decade. The decline between 2010 and 2018 varied from 66% in the United States to 84% in India, International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena) figures show. Further technological innovations could bring greater price falls and efficiency increases.

“What this means is that solar will reach, in many parts of the world, a levelised cost of energy that will make it unbeatable compared to fossil fuels. Given that solar is so easy and quick to install, not to mention flexible – after all, solar can be used to power something as small as a watch or as large as a city – it should mean that solar installations continue to grow over the coming decade. This could also be very good for the climate.”

Costs could halve by 2030, having already dropped sharply in the past decade. The decline between 2010 and 2018 varied from 66% in the United States to 84% in India, International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena) figures show. Further technological innovations could bring greater price falls and efficiency increases.

One innovation, that is driving rapid uptake of off-grid solar in Africa is Pay-As-You-Go (PAYGo) installation, where households pay a small deposit to install a system, and pay for the remainder over subsequent years, as the solar panels deliver power, a report from the WEF’s Global Future Council on Energy http://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_Accelerating_access_to_sustainable_ener…   pointed out .

This alternative financing for “last mile” consumers has been especially successful in Kenya, an e-commerce pioneer where mobile payment systems are well established, providing a model for the PAYGo system to build on. However, even in African countries that do not have such a strong enabling environment, the development of the off-grid market for off-grid solar was accelerated by the introduction of PAYGo.

“The impact of PAYGo solar companies is undeniable,” the council said, noting these firms emerged in the mid-2010s. “In less than five years, they have improved the quality of life for approximately eight million people – primarily in Sub-Saharan Africa – by bringing clean energy and financing to customers that traditional utilities and financial institutions have ignored.”

The continent’s leading solar generator, South Africa, plans to have 8.2 GW of utility-scale solar capacity installed by 2030. Following a hiatus on renewables-project approvals and a series of power outages caused by inadequate grid supply, the country’s President Cyril Ramaphosa has decided to green-light a wide range of power generating options, including permitting businesses to produce their own.

“We cannot stop technology, we cannot stop the future from arriving,” he told Reuters.


The power of parity: Advancing women’s equality in Africa


Africa is home to some of the world’s fastest-growing economies and offers an exciting frontier for businesses looking for growth and new markets. The continent has a young, rapidly expanding population, a boon in an aging world. This generation is increasingly urban and technologically savvy. Yet for all of Africa’s dynamism, women do not share equally in its journey towards prosperity. Progress towards gender equality has stalled, and Africa’s women lag behind their sisters in most other regions in most areas of their life. The time has come to step up efforts to bring women into Africa’s promising future. Otherwise, Africa will not reach its full potential.

This report explores the “power of parity” in Africa, looking at the potential boost to economic growth that could come from accelerating progress towards gender equality. It builds on MGI’s global research on this topic since 2015 which has included reports on Asia Pacific, Canada, the Netherlands, India, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Western Europe. This report also further develops the thinking contained in McKinsey & Company’s long-established research on women in leadership roles and, in particular, its report Women Matter Africa published in 2016. This research is a collaboration between MGI and McKinsey’s Africa offices.

The research was led by Lohini Moodley, a McKinsey partner in Addis Ababa; Mayowa Kuyoro,  a McKinsey consultant in Lagos; Tania Holt, a McKinsey partner in London; Acha Leke, a senior partner and a member of the MGI Council in Johannesburg; Anu Madgavkar, an MGI partner in Mumbai; Mekala Krishnan, an MGI senior fellow in Boston; and Folakemi Akintayo, a McKinsey consultant in Lagos. We were expertly guided by many colleagues from across McKinsey’s  Africa offices, namely Jalil Bensouda, a senior partner in Casablanca; Armando Cabral, a senior partner in Luanda; Luís Cunha, a senior partner in Johannesburg; and Rogerio Mascarenhas, a senior partner in Lagos. Many colleagues in McKinsey’s Africa offices were pivotal to our efforts, including Adnane Berraho, Roukaya El Houda, Saad ElMansouri, and Edmond Yougbare in Casablanca; Jumoke Gbeleyi and Edema Ojomo in Lagos; Nyambura Karita, Kui Mbugua, and Sylvia Mwangi in Nairobi; and Mabohlale Addae, Lungelo Mnguni, Xolile Msimanga, and Zakhele Ndaba (alumnus) in Johannesburg. We also thank McKinsey practice specialist Rishi Arora.

Many McKinsey colleagues helped with this research. We thank Benjamin Bechtolsheim, Farayi Chipungu, Lars Harteinstein, Marilyn Kimeu, Tony Lee, Sunny Sun, and Tracy Nowski.

We are grateful to MGI’s operations team including Janet Bush, MGI senior editor, who helped write this report; Julie Philpot, editorial production manager; Marisa Carder and Patrick White, MGI design specialists; Lauren Meling, MGI digital editor; and Nienke Beuwer, head of MGI external relations in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. For McKinsey in Africa, we thank Kartik Jayaram, senior partner, Nairobi; Kerry Naidoo, director of communications based in Johannesburg; and John Pratt, head of reputation risk for Eastern Europe, Middle East, Africa, and Asia.

Many external experts gave invaluable advice and consented to be interviewed. We thank Olanike Adedeji, technical specialist, United Nations  Population  Fund  (UNPFA),  Abuja, Nigeria; Bolaji Agbede, group head of HR, Access Bank; Biola Alabi, CEO, Biola Alabi Media; Tania Almeida, vice president of strategy in Africa, Total; Judith Omondi-Anyona, programs   and operations manager, John Snow Inc.; Eunice de Carvalho, director of corporate affairs, Unitel; Naiole Cohen dos Santos, president of audit and internal control committee, Banco de Poupança e Crédito and former chairman of Angola Cables; Amy Elizabeth Copley, analyst, World Bank Gender Innovation Lab; Korkor Cudjoe, women’s right programme manager, Graça Machel Trust; Tosin Faniro Dada, head, startups (Lagos Innovates), Lagos State Employment Trust Fund; Olayinka David-West, professor of Information Systems, Lagos Business School; Alison Ardisson Decker, research analyst, World Bank; Kuseni Dlamini, chairman, Massmart Holdings Ltd; Uzoma Dozie, managing director and CEO, Diamond Bank; Nadia Fassi-Fehri,

ii             McKinsey Global Institute

président directeur général, inwi; Lamia Ferguène, regional head of human resources, Middle East region, Natixis; Valentina Filipe, executive board member, Angolan Sovereign Fund; Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi, chancellor, Nelson Mandela University, and chair of the Committee   of Experts of Public Administration of the United Nations Economic and Social Council; Markus Goldstein, gender practice leader in the Africa Region and lead economist, Africa, World Bank; Shungu Gwarinda, interim CEO and director of programmes, Graça Machel Trust; Tazeen Hasan, senior private sector specialist, World Bank; Lorna Irungu-Macharia, managing director, Gina Din Group; Patricia Ithau, regional director of the Stanford Institute for Innovation in Development Economies and Stanford Seed, East Africa; Lola Kassim, general manager West Africa, Uber;   Faith Khanyile, CEO, WDB Investment Holdings; Sicily Kanini Kariuki,  cabinet  secretary  for health, Republic of Kenya; Cina Lawson, minister of posts, digital economy, and tech innovation, Republic of Togo; Emeritus Professor Rose Gana Fomban Leke; Beatrice Lugalambi, general manager, business development and marketing, Centenary Bank; Julia Mayersohn, manager, Children’s Investment Fund Foundation; Maria Makhabane, vice president, ALX; Dagmawit Moges, minister of transport, Ethiopia; Hope Murera, CEO, Zep-Re; Inez Murray, CEO,

Financial Alliance for Women; Ory Okolloh Mwangi, director of investments, Omidyar Network; Lindiwe Nakedi, owner and managing director, Gubhani Exploration; Mirembe Nantongo, deputy assistant secretary, Office of the Director General, Bureau of Human Resources, US Department of State; Alice Neves, executive board member, Entreposto EP; Robin Newnham, head of policy analysis and capacity building, Alliance for Financial Inclusion; Ndidi Okonkwo Nwuneli, founder of LEAP Africa, co-founder of AACE Food Processing & Distribution, and managing partner, Sahel Consulting; Isis Nyon’go Madison, founder and CEO, MumsVillage, and senior advisor, Albright Stonebridge Group, Patricia Obozuwa, chief communications and public affairs officer, GE Africa; Dr. Jumoke Oduwole, Special Adviser (Ease of Doing Business) to the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; Emmanuel Ogwuche, logistics and commodities program manager, United States Agency for International Development (USAID); Lance Osiro, associate, sexual and reproductive health, Clinton Health Access Initiative; Michael B. O’Sullivan, senior economist and land thematic leader, World Bank Gender Innovation Lab; Arumeh Oteh, scholar, University of Oxford, former vice president and treasurer, World Bank; Joshua Otieno, associate, sexual and reproductive health, Clinton Health Access Initiative; Rapelang Rabana, founder and chair, Rekindle Learning; Eliana Santos, chair, Central Bank (BNA) Supervision Committee; Inokcelina Santos, executive board member, BAI Bank; Naiole Santos, former chair, Angola Cables; Jessica Schnabel, global head, Banking on Women, International Finance Corporation; Claire Sibthorpe, head of connected women and connected society, GSMA; Adia Sowho, managing director, Nigeria, mines.io; Olubunmi Aboderin-Talabi, chairperson, executive council, WIMBIZ Publisher, Clever Clogs Books; and Joyce Ann Wainaina, CEO, Citibank, Kenya.

This report contributes to MGI’s mission to help business and policy leaders understand the forces transforming the global economy, identify strategic locations, and prepare for the next wave of growth. As with all MGI research, this work is independent and has not been commissioned or sponsored in any way by any business, government, or other institution. While we are grateful for all the input we have received, the report and views expressed here are ours alone. We welcome your comments on this research at MGI@mckinsey.com

The main feature is starting here:

All graphs, tables and captions courtesy by McKinsey Global Institute

Africa has so much promise. The continent is home to some of the world’s fastest-growing economies and offers an exciting frontier for businesses looking for growth and new markets. And,  yet, persistent gender inequality is limiting its potential. Pockets of good news do exist, but they tend to be success stories for women at the top of the pyramid, but not for millions of ordinary African women. Because of the failure to embrace gender diversity, millions of women and Africa’s overall social and economic progress will not reach their full potential. If Africa steps up its efforts now to close gender gaps, it can secure a substantial growth dividend in the process.

Africa could add USD 316 billion or 10 % to GDP in the period to 2025 if each country makes advances in women’s equality to match the country in the region that has achieved the most progress towards parity. Today, however, this “best-in-region” scenario seems a distant possibility. At the current rate of progress, Africa could take more than 140 years to achieve gender parity.

Nevertheless, some African countries have made solid progress towards parity in both work and society—progress on one is not possible without advances on the other. Rwanda has tripled women’s representation in middle management. Botswana has cut maternal mortality by about 58 %. Egypt has tripled its score, and Guinea and Liberia doubled their scores, on legal protection of women. These examples should inspire others.

At work, Africa scores ahead of other regions on women’s labour-force participation, but most women work in low-paid jobs in the informal sector with little hope of advancement. Africa has the highest female representation on company boards of any region—25 % versus the global average of 17 %—but the share of women in middle management has regressed by approximately 1 % a year since 2015. Unpaid care work continues to fall disproportionately on women’s shoulders, which leaves them with less choice about where they work and fewer opportunities to find a job in the formal economy.

In society, Africa’s progress towards parity is poor in comparison to other regions. It has the highest average maternal mortality rate. Women’s education and women’s financial and digital inclusion relative to men are also below the world average, with financial inclusion declining over the past four years. One bright spot has been some progress on women’s political representation in some countries, though improvement has not happened consistently across countries. Violence against women is a global issue, but Africa’s record is worse than the worldwide average.

Africa has much promise, but seizing the considerable economic benefits from empowering women—the power of parity—will require decisive and systematic action by all stakeholders, from governments to CEOs and community leaders. Action in five priority areas can reinvigorate progress: (1) invest in human capital; (2) create economic opportunities;

(3) leverage technology; (4) shape attitudes; and (5) enforce laws, policies, and regulations. With foresight and a commitment to act, Africa can unleash the potential of women and unlock much-needed growth.

1. A missed opportunity

Although some countries have made tremendous progress towards gender parity in some areas, overall the gap between men and women in Africa in both society and the world of work remains high. This reinforces and fuels further inequality and compromises the continent’s long-term economic health. Only when women are enabled to reach their full potential can Africa seize its full potential.

Women account for more than 50 % of Africa’s combined population, but in 2018 generated only 33 % of the continent’s collective GDP. Overall, progress towards gender equality has stalled. At the current rate of progress, it would take Africa 142 years to reach gender parity.

Although a large majority of African women work, most of them work in the informal sector and have not been able to break through into higher-paid, quality jobs and leading positions in business. Significant hurdles remain for most African women seeking a better life. In society, there has been some progress in getting more women into influential positions in politics, but on other measures of societal equality there is still a long way to go. African women have lower levels of education, and have less access than men to the financial services and digital technologies that increasingly unlock doors to economic opportunity. Women continue, disproportionately, to carry the “double burden” of working in the home and in the labour force. This is a missed opportunity.

“There is change happening, but it’s not happening fast enough. In the meantime, what women have to do is grin and bear the challenges they face.” Ndidi Nwuneli Founder, AACE Foods

In a realistic scenario, Africa could add USD 316 billion to GDP growth by 2025

Advancing women’s equality could deliver a significant boost to Africa’s growth. In a “best-in-region” scenario that recognises that attaining gender parity will be difficult in the short or even medium term and that assumes each country in Africa matches the country in the region with the most progress towards parity. Africa could add USD 316 billion or 10 % of GDP by 2025 (Exhibit 1).1  In a “full-potential” scenario in which women and men play identical roles in labour markets, Africa could potentially add USD 1 trillion, or 34 %, to its collective GDP in the period to 2025.

Africa’s progress towards gender parity has stalled

Progress towards parity has been slow the world over, and Africa is no exception. Although some countries have achieved movement in the right direction on some aspects of gender inequality, overall Africa has not advanced women’s equality over the past four years, and inequality was already high.

Progress towards parity varies significantly among African countries The journey towards parity differs substantially among African countries. We analysed  39 African countries to determine their performance on gender equality. These countries were selected because the available data were robust enough to conduct our GPS analysis. South Africa has the highest GPS at 0.76, indicating medium gender inequality. Mauritania,

Mali, and Niger have the lowest scores at 0.46, 0.46, and 0.45 respectively (extremely high inequality).3

There are large variations on the four dimensions of gender equality (Exhibit 3). The only dimension on which Africa has advanced is legal protection and political representation, primarily reflecting progress in Rwanda and South Africa. Africa’s overall score on all other indicators has either been unchanged or regressed.

Pockets of good news do exist. Some countries have shown remarkable improvement  on several indicators. For instance, Rwanda and South Africa have increased women’s representation in middle-management roles by 27 % and 15 %, respectively.

Algeria has cut maternal mortality rates by about 9 %. Egypt has tripled its score, and Guinea and Liberia doubled their scores on legal protection of women. These examples of rapid progress should inspire others to forge ahead with actions to advance gender equality.


2     The Gender Parity Score weights each indicator equally and calculates an aggregate measure at the country level of how close women are to gender parity. A GPS of 1.00 indicates parity; a GPS of 0.95, for example, indicates that a country has 5 % to go before attaining parity. For most indicators, low inequality is defined as being within 5 % of parity, medium between 5 and 25 %, high between 25 and 50 %, and extremely high as greater than 50 % from parity. For physical security and autonomy indicators, we defined extremely high inequality as greater than 33 % distance from no prevalence (of child marriage or violence against women). For sex ratio at birth and maternal mortality, given the different ranges of values for these two indicators, slightly different thresholds were used. For full details of the methodology, see the appendix of The power of parity: How advancing women’s equality can add USD 12 trillion a year to global growth, McKinsey Global Institute, September 2015.

3 Throughout this report, we colour code levels of gender inequality: extremely high (black), high (dark blue), medium (mid- blue), and low (light blue).

Looking at gender equality in both work and society we discern four distinct groups of countries that have achieved differing degrees of progress (Exhibit 4):

Leaders (Lesotho, Namibia, Rwanda, South Africa, and Zimbabwe). These countries, mainly in Southern and East Africa, have achieved solid progress towards parity in

both work and society with higher GPS on education, more equal participation in professional and technical jobs, and above-average progress towards parity on most societal indicators.

—           Workplace-focused (Botswana, Guinea, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and Swaziland). These countries have low scores on progress towards gender equality in society but somewhat better scores on progress towards gender equality in work. For example, Botswana has a score of 0.67 on work and 0.59 on society. These countries’ unmet need for family planning is double the world average, and their maternal mortality rates are as much as 13 times the world average in the case of Sierra Leone.

—           Middle of the road (Angola, Burundi, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, and Zambia). These countries have average scores on progress towards parity in work and in society relative to other African countries, and all have areas of strength. For instance, Ghana has made more progress on higher education and financial inclusion than other countries in the group. Mauritius scores relatively high on access to health and education, while Madagascar has higher-than-average female participation in professional and technical jobs.

—           Room for growth (Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, and Senegal). These countries have a considerable distance to travel to achieve gender equality although differences between North and Sub-Saharan Africa are significant. While North African countries mostly match the global average on gender equality in society including, for instance, women’s access   to healthcare, and have nearly achieved parity on education, these countries also perform significantly below peers on work indicators, particularly the labour-force-participation rate. Sub-Saharan African countries in this group however underperform on both work  and society indicators, with maternal mortality rates in Burkina Faso and Niger three to eight times higher than the global average. For both North and Sub-Saharan Africa, inequality remains high on unpaid care work and on the share of women in leading roles in business and politics.


Gender inequality in Africa is high and progress in reducing the gap between men and women in both work and society has stalled in recent years. If all African countries were to emulate the advances we have seen on some indicators of gender inequality by some of their neighbours, they could achieve a significant boost to GDP.

2.            Gender inequality at work

Africa’s overall progress towards gender equality at work is similar to that of other regions (Exhibit 5). Beneath the surface, however, there is a great deal left to do.

At first glance, Africa’s progress towards parity in the world of work might appear relatively solid because of high labour-force participation. However, too few women make it into high- quality professional and technical jobs, and the vast majority of African women work in low- paid, often subsistence, jobs in the informal economy. The region has made notable advances on getting more women into executive committees and board positions, but is not doing well at elevating women into middle management – suggesting that executive committees and boards could remain male-dominated well into the future without tackling this issue. As such, Africa’s high gender inequality in leadership positions is largely driven by the lack of representation in middle management. It also remains the case that women undertake the majority of unpaid care work in the home, juggling caring for families and households with earning a living (Exhibit 6).4

In this chapter, we first look at labour-force participation, including a discussion of women’s role in unpaid care work, and then at women working in the informal and formal economies. Because Africa’s informal sector is so large, we have included a new GPS indicator of formal employment. While we acknowledge, that there is substantial work to be done in bolstering Africa’s informal sector, this area is not the focus of this report. However, for a discussion of instances of progress towards gender equality in work and interventions in the formal economy that Africa should consider prioritising to accelerate and broaden progress, see   the final chapter of this report. Finally, we review African women’s performance in leadership positions and professional and technical jobs.

“The social expectations that women have upon them undermine their professional performance.”

Inokcelina dos Santos, Executive director, Banco Angolano de Investimentos

The vast majority of African women work informally

The informal sector generates 85.8 % of jobs in Africa, compared with 61.2 % in the rest of the world. The proportion is greater for women—89.7 % of employed women across the continent work in the informal economy, compared with 82.8 % of men (Exhibit 8).5 In any discussion of advancing women in Africa, this feature of Africa’s working landscape cannot be ignored. Africa’s GPS reading on the new formal indicator indicates high gender inequality.

The informal economy makes an outsize contribution to GDP in Africa. It generates 38 % of GDP in Sub-Saharan Africa, compared with 17 % in the rest of the world, according to the World Bank. However, the proportion varies widely among African countries.6  For instance, the informal economy accounts for more than 60 % of GDP in Nigeria, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe, but less than 30 % in South Africa.7

“Organisations that don’t embrace diversity are shortchanging themselves and their shareholders. Your leadership structures should reflect your customer base.” Kuseni Dlamini, Chairman of Massmart, South Africa.

Across Africa, agriculture accounts for a large proportion of informal work by women. In this sector, 97.9 % of work is informal, compared with 77.4 % in industry and

70.2 % in services. Women tend to have lower-level, lower-quality employment in agriculture. According to a World Bank study, even when women are sole proprietors, their businesses tending livestock typically herd smaller animals than men’s.8  In cassava farming in Nigeria, more men are commercial producers and processors while women are still predominantly engaged in smallholder processing. Of Nigeria’s six million smallholder cassava farmers, women account for 25 % of farms but earn only 17 % of the income. The World Bank found that women tend to be less productive farmers than men as they do not have as much access to funding and cooperatives.


5 Women and men in the informal economy: A statistical picture, third edition, International Labour Organization, 2018.

6        Friedrich Schneider, Andreas Buehn, and Claudio E. Montenegro, Shadow economies all over the world: New estimates   for 162 countries from 1999 to 2007, World Bank, 2007.

7 Terence Jackson, “Don’t underestimate the power of Africa’s informal sector in the global economy,” Quartz Africa, January 21, 2016.

8 Gender and property rights in Sub-Saharan Africa: A review of constraints and effective interventions, World Bank, November 21, 2017.

In low-income countries more women than men working informally tend to be in vulnerable situations, for example engaged as domestic and home-based workers. Specifically, 30.6 % of women who work in the informal sector are considered to be contributing family workers, a classification that applies to only 14.2 % of men.9  People in these situations are vulnerable because they are poorly compensated and many work with no compensation at all. In addition, they do not enjoy the benefits and legal protection that come with working in a structured form of employment.

Finally, 44.5 % of workers in informal employment have no education. Three-quarters of those who do receive an education only complete the primary level and less than 2 % complete the tertiary level. This limited education makes it extremely difficult to leave vulnerable informal jobs because people lack the education and skills to take on different types of employment. Because more women than men find themselves in this position, this further entrenches gender inequality (see Box 2, “Barriers to women advancing in informal agricultural jobs”).

The role of women in Africa’s workforce is undoubtedly linked to the structure of the economy. As more African economies mature and become more formal, it will be critical not to leave women behind, but to actively think about how to create opportunities for women in the formal economy, particularly in sectors that drive economic growth.


9 Women and Men in the informal economy: A statistical picture, third edition, ILO International Labour Organisation, 2018

Africa leads the world on women’s share of board positions

One bright spot in Africa’s efforts to advance women in the world of work is at the very top of companies—on executive committees and boards. Africa has the highest female representation at the board level of any region at 25 %— against a global average of 17 %—and marginally higher than average representation on executive committees at 22 % (Exhibit 9).

Africa’s GPS on women in leadership positions is, however, only 0.33, which is a little below the global average of 0.37. This indicator looks at leadership in positions that are middle management and above, suggesting that Africa’s average score on women in top business positions reflects progress at the top of companies rather than in middle management (see the next section for further discussion).

The imperative to achieve higher women’s representation at the board and executive committee level was highlighted in McKinsey’s 2016 Women Matter Africa report on which this research builds. That study found that earnings before interest and taxes by companies with at least a 25 % female share at the board level were, on average, 20 % higher than the industry average. Companies in the top quartile on women’s representation in executive committees had earnings at least 14 % higher than the industry average.11

Since 2015, Africa has made more progress in getting women into positions at the board level than at the executive committee level. Female representation has increased by 4 % on the former, but by only 1 % on the latter. The increase in women’s representation on boards was largely driven by companies in Central Africa and Southern Africa, which, on average, have achieved an increase of 10 and 5 %, respectively, since 2015. Southern Africa stands out with female representation of 29 %, far higher than the 17 % global average.

We find that representation varies according to the size of companies. Very large companies (with revenue of more than USD 5 billion) perform strongly on female representation on boards, but not as well on their representation in executive committee positions. About 80 % of very large companies in Africa have at least 20 % female representation on boards, but only 3 % of them have more than 33 % female representation in executive committee jobs. Large companies (with revenue of USD 1 billion to USD 5 billion) are doing better at getting women into executive committee roles than companies of other sizes. Fifty-four % of them have at least 20 % female representation on executive committees compared with 48 % for very large companies and 45 % for medium companies.

While Africa is relatively successful in getting more women into top positions in business, a number of reality checks are necessary. First, only a relatively small number of economies— namely Botswana, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, and South Africa—have made headway, inflating the average score. At the current rate of progress towards parity, it would take 20 years to achieve equality on boards and 118 years on executive committees.

Second, 60 % of women on executive committees have staff rather than line roles that matter for succession and from which promotion to CEO typically comes. Staff roles focus on support functions such as human resources and legal, whereas line roles focus on core operations, strategy, finance, and risk. People in staff roles have less influence on the strategic direction of companies, including any effort to further gender equality.


11 Women Matter Africa: Making gender diversity a reality, McKinsey & Company, August 2016.

Women’s advances in companies below the top leadership level have been less impressive

If we look at senior and middle management together, overall Africa is below the global average for leadership positions in the workplace (see the next section). Unless this is fixed, the pipeline of women climbing the career ladder will not be sufficient to maintain progress in their representation at the very top of companies and Africa will soon be overtaken by other regions that are making more headway at the middle-management level.

Africa’s progress on women’s representation in formal jobs and in middle management has been limited. We analysed the “funnel” towards senior leadership in business (not including women working in the home and in the informal economy) at four stages: education, formal jobs, middle-management roles, and top leadership roles (Exhibit 10). The results indicate that even for the small proportion of women in formal employment in Africa, on the path from entry-level positions to top leadership roles, their share drops significantly, by nearly 50 %.

Since 2015, progress on increasing women’s presence in middle-management roles has gone backward—on average by around 1 % a year across Africa. In North Africa, only 9 % of women attain middle-management roles despite the fact that they account for 53 % of the population completing tertiary education.

Looking at another indicator, women’s representation in professional and technical roles is still relatively low in Africa. Africa’s GPS is 0.68 (the same as in 2015), well below the global average of 0.73. The majority of countries in Central and West Africa have some of the lowest scores in the world on this indicator. The good news, however, is that Nigeria, Namibia, and South Africa are all exceptions having all achieved gender parity on this indicator. It is not clear what drives these variations.

For the majority of African women, the world of work remains a story of low wages, insecurity, and limited opportunities to progress into professional and technical roles that offer the chance of a higher standard of living let alone the prospect of becoming a leading figure in business. Africa has already proven that decisive action can make a genuine difference in the number of women in top business roles. Now the imperative is to take measures to spread opportunity to the vast legions of African women who do not share in such opportunities today.

3. Gender inequality in society

Africa lags behind other regions on progress towards gender equality in society, which we define using three elements: essential services and enablers of economic opportunity; legal protection and political voice; and physical security and autonomy (Exhibit 11).

Africa has not done a good job of providing essential services such as healthcare and education. The continent has the highest average rates of maternal mortality and unmet need for family planning in the world. One key to unlocking economic opportunities for women

is ensuring that they have access to finance, but that access has actually declined over the past four years. Some African countries have made some progress on getting women into influential positions in politics, but even here gender inequality remains extremely high as it is around the world.

In this chapter, we briefly look at key indicators of gender equality in society in each of the three dimensions. We discuss actions to tackle gender inequality in society in the final chapter of this report.

As might be expected of a highly diverse continent, the picture is not a uniform one (Exhibits 12). For instance, countries in Southern Africa perform relatively well on women’s education and also have a low incidence of child marriage. This is not the case in West and Central Africa. There is one indicator, however, on which Africa has achieved low gender inequality across the board, and in fact is the highest performing globally – the sex ratio at birth.

Africa underperforms on essential services and enabling women’s economic opportunity

Africa is one of the worst-performing regions in the world on access to essential services   with socioeconomic and cultural factors playing a part. Child marriage, for instance, prevents girls from obtaining an education, stunting their economic prospects in adulthood. Economic constraints—and political priorities—limit the resources allocated to maternal health, family planning, and education. In some countries, tradition dictates that unskilled members of the community assist with childbirth rather than professionals, and this contributes to high maternal mortality. Here we focus on two indicators: maternal mortality and education.

—           Maternal mortality. Africa’s overall maternal mortality rate is four times the global average; indeed, in Burundi, Liberia, and Nigeria, the maternal mortality rate is seven times that average. In Nigeria, the maternal mortality rate worsened between 2013 and 2015 from 560 to 814 deaths for every 100,000 live births.12  Some African countries have reported marked progress, however. Across Sub-Saharan Africa, maternal mortality fell by 39 % between 2000 and 2017. Morocco reduced its maternal mortality rate by 30 % between 2012 and 2017 by granting free access to emergency obstetric care, investing in raising the quality of that care, and creating accountability in healthcare administration. Botswana, Swaziland, Liberia and Sierra Leone, have all halved their maternal mortality rate since 2000. In the case of Sierra Leone there was a reduction in maternal mortality from 2650 for every 100000 live births in 2015 to 1,360 in 2019. However, this still left maternal mortality at 13 times the global average of 107. On the whole across Africa, there are broader challenges in healthcare–in leadership and governance, financing, human resources, supply chains, physical infrastructure, and data and information systems–that have a significant impact on maternal health outcomes, but need to be addressed through concerted effort beyond maternal mortality programmes. Without strong health systems, small pilot programmes that target maternal health cannot be scaled up if they prove successful.

—           Education level. Africa as a whole has a female-to-male ratio of 0.76 on the level of women’s education, the lowest GPS of any region in the world. The global score is 0.92, which is relatively close to gender parity. The picture varies enormously within Africa. Thirty countries lag behind the global average. Angola and Burkina Faso are so far behind that on the current trajectory, reaching gender parity could take 50 to 100 years. In Sub- Saharan Africa, fewer than 90 girls are enrolled for every 100 boys at the lower secondary level, and that number drops to less than 85 at the upper secondary level. At the primary level, about 95 girls enrol for every 100 boys.13 At 10.5 million, Nigeria has the largest number of children out of school in the world and girls account for 52 % of the total.

In stark contrast, Namibia, whose government has been working to improve the status of women for nearly 30 years, has achieved gender parity on education.14  Zimbabwe’s GPS on education is 0.94, not far from parity; the country has the highest availability  of textbooks in Africa, achieved through sustained investment. Burundi, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Mozambique, Niger, and Togo have narrowed the gender gap in education since 2015 albeit marginally by 1 % to 3 % a year. Pushing hard for equal education for boys and girls is of vital importance because this enables progress on other aspects  of gender inequality. There is a moderate to strong correlation with three out of five work equality indicators and several indicators of gender equality in society. Girls who receive the same education as boys are more likely to share unpaid work with men more equitably, work in professional and technical occupations, and reach the top of companies. Narrower gender gaps in educational attainment are strongly correlated with the status of girls and women in the family measured by the prevalence of child marriage and violence against women.

“We mobilised resources aimed at the education of girls, the empowerment of adolescent youth, and improved working conditions for market women. Nevertheless, the challenges for sustained growth and development remain.” Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, First female president of Liberia,


12 This deterioration in maternal mortality rates partly reflects the conflict in northeastern Nigeria, which reduced the probability of women receiving antenatal care visits, and delivery at a health centre by a skilled health professional. See Patience I. Adamu, Muminu O. Adamu, and Hilary I. Okagbue, “Data in support of high rate of pregnancy related deaths in Maiduguri, Borno State, Northeast Nigeria,” Data in Brief, Volume 18, June 2018.

13 UNESCO, Global Education Monitoring Report 2019: Gender report: Building bridges for gender equality, 2019.

14 The Southern and Eastern Africa Consortium for Monitoring Educational Quality, Assessment GEMS Series No. 8, The Centre for Global Education Monitoring, January 2015.

Africa is below the global average on ensuring that women are adequately enabled to  capture economic opportunities. We focus here on access to financial services and on digital inclusion, each of which is moderately correlated with a range of indicators of gender equality at work.

— Financial inclusion. In 34 of 91 countries MGI studied in 2015, women faced high to extremely high gender inequality on financial inclusion, and Africa was one of the regions facing the biggest challenges on this front. A number of studies have shown, that opening up women’s access to finance, creates a virtuous cycle because women are more likely than men to spend their money on products and services that increase the welfare and productivity of the family such as food, healthcare, and education.15  A number of barriers exist  (see Box 4, “A range of factors hinder African women’s access to finance”).16  Today, Africa’s overall GPS on financial inclusion is considerably lower than the global average of 0.75 and the lowest of any region except for South Asia excluding India. Indeed, over the past four years, Africa’s GPS has fallen by 1 %. Women’s access to finance in Chad and Niger, for instance, is less than half that of men.


15 Matthias Doepke and Michele Tertilt, Does female empowerment promote economic development? Centre for Economic Policy Research discussion paper number 8441, June 2011.

16 For further discussion of the barriers to women’s financial inclusion, see, for instance, Leora Klapper and Pankhuri Dutt, Digital financial solutions to advance women’s economic participation,  World  Bank  Development  Research  Group, Better Than Cash Alliance, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Women’s World Banking, November 2015.

The decline in women’s access to finance appears to reflect the fact that women were disproportionately affected by a fall in overall access to credit since 2014 because banks and other financial-services providers regard them as riskier borrowers than men. For instance, the share of women among loan contractors dropped from 42 % to 36 % in Kenya and from 49 % to 43 % in Tanzania.17

We are, however, seeing some evidence that financial-services providers are increasing their focus on lending to women. For example, 14 out of 20 commercial banks in Nigeria have a specific value proposition for women that includes lending. However, this trend has emerged only in the past 24 to 36 months, and it is therefore too early to measure impact.

Digital inclusion. The internet—and specifically, the internet delivered via mobile phone— has become a powerful tool for women and men particularly in emerging economies that do not have the advanced physical (including transportation) infrastructure of their more advanced counterparts. Mobile-based internet can be used to receive and make payments, receive microcredit, and simply connect. For women, digital technologies can save time, and help to relieve the double burden of unpaid work. Digital technologies can unleash new opportunities to set up small businesses at far lower cost than conventional operations, including access to e-commerce. Running a business online is attractive to women in particular because it gives them the flexibility to work from home and entails low setup costs.18

Africa has made progress towards parity on digital inclusion with a 0.81 female-to-male digital inclusion ratio—not far below the global average of 0.86—but that progress has stagnated. The continent still has the second-largest gender gap in mobile ownership at 15 % and only one woman out of three has access to the mobile internet in Sub- Saharan Africa compared with one man in two.

The affordability of devices is the biggest factor, but women in particular are also hindered by low digital literacy and skills that need to be addressed even if the prices of devices come down.19  There are also cultural barriers. Many women are discouraged from using mobile phones and the internet by husbands and are fearful of giving their mobile numbers to buy airtime in case it subjects them to harassment. For example, an interview with an industry expert highlighted the fact that most airtime top-ups are not anonymous, exposing women to unwanted calls from harassers.


17 This fall in access to credit is sometimes driven by the implementation of interest rate ceilings. Interest rate ceilings affect low-income populations by limiting their access to finance and reducing price transparency. If ceilings are set too low, financial-services providers find it difficult to recover costs and are likely to grow more slowly, reduce service delivery in rural areas and other costlier markets, become less transparent about the total cost of loans, and even exit the market entirely. As financial institutions become more risk averse, they are less likely to offer credit to women as women’s workforce participation is disproportionately higher in the informal sector and these women therefore tend to be seen as too risky or less commercially viable for formal lending.

18 In Indonesia, a McKinsey survey found that women-owned micro, small, and medium-size enterprises (MSME) generate

35 % of e-commerce revenue, compared with only 15 % of offline MSME revenue. See McKinsey survey of Indonesian e-commerce merchants, 2017. N = 700. Also see The power of parity: Advancing women’s equality In Asia Pacific, McKinsey Global Institute, April 2018.

19 A GSMA report that reviewed the barriers to owning a phone for people in Africa noted that, after affordability, the next- most-common barrier was literacy and skills. See The mobile gender gap report 2018, GSMA, 2018

Africa scores above the global average on political voice, and below average on legal protection

Africa’s story on political representation is mixed with distinct successes but also some reversals. Overall, Africa’s GPS of 0.33 is somewhat higher than the global average of 0.27— but both reflect extremely high levels of gender inequality on this indicator. On average across Africa, female political representation in cabinets and parliaments has risen by 6 % and  3 %, respectively, over the past four years. Taking both together, Africa’s female political representation of 25 % is above the global average of 22 %.

Among the world’s regions, Africa has the third-highest representation (Exhibit 13). We note that this largely reflects progress in three countries: Ethiopia, which has a female president, Rwanda, and South Africa. In a first for Africa, all three countries have also achieved gender- balanced cabinets.

However, 12 countries including Morocco, Niger, and Nigeria have regressed on this indicator since 2015. Nigeria currently has 43 cabinet members, only seven of whom are women. If the rest of Africa does not make a concerted effort to match the step changes of the three leading countries, we estimate that it will take the continent more than half a century to reach gender parity on political voice.

Progress on women’s representation in politics in some African countries to a large extent reflects explicit policies designed to achieve this outcome, quotas being the main lever.

Rwanda’s constitution mandates that women account for at least 30 % of all decision- making bodies in the government, including its bicameral parliament. Rwanda is unique in having women-only elections in which only women stand for office and only women vote.

This policy has led political parties to adopt quotas for the number of women candidates. South Africa introduced quotas to ensure the representation of women in political positions at the provincial and national level. The government reinforced its efforts to get more women into politics by putting in place a day care centre in the parliament building. Some African countries have quotas in place for women representation, but not all countries abide by these quotas. For example, Burkina Faso has a quota of 30 % representation, but representation stands at only 14 %.

On legal protection, Africa still has some way to go. Africa’s GPS is 0.45, compared with the global average of 0.53.20

Globally, laws outlining and guaranteeing the rights of women as full members of society show a moderate correlation with four out of five work equality indicators and several indicators of gender equality in society. Only three African countries—Rwanda, South Africa, and Zimbabwe—enshrine equal rights for men and women into law. These countries perform on average better than most other countries on gender equality in society and at work with three of the four highest Gender Parity Scores on the continent.

On the other side of the coin, a number of African countries still have laws that explicitly discriminate against women. In Cameroon, Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the Republic of Congo, the law gives husbands sole control over marital property, making it difficult for married women to obtain loans to finance any business they may want to set up since these loans often require property as collateral. In Chad, Guinea-Bissau, and Niger, married women need their husbands’ permission to open a bank account. Although there is a moderate correlation between equitable laws across gender and violence against women globally, there appears to be no correlation between legal protection and violence against women in Africa (see the next section). It is important that these laws are not only enacted, but also come with a commitment to implement and enforce.

“It is important to set up the necessary legal and institutional framework to ensure that women participate in politics.” Ann Kirima Muchoki, Chairperson, Kenya Investment Authority,


20 MGI’s legal protection indicator is a composite index of 11 indicators that include the right to work, access institutions, inherit assets, and be protected from violence.

Africa’s record on violence against women is worse than the global average

Violence against women is one of three indicators MGI included in its physical security and autonomy dimension (the other two are missing women arising from the preference for a boy child and child marriage). As Africa performs relatively well on the other two elements, here we focus on violence against women. This is a global problem, but Africa’s current record on this indicator is worse than the global average. Nineteen % of African women have been victims of violence from an intimate partner, compared with 11 % globally.

There appear to be a number of reasons why violence against women is so prevalent in Africa.

The fact that so many women lack independent means or  lack knowledge of the law (where it protects them), or both, means that they find it hard to leave abusive relationships. The trauma of experiencing violence undermines women’s confidence and prevents them from pursuing available educational or work opportunities. And in many African countries, women do not report instances of violence against them because of the shame and stigma attached. Women’s security can also be compromised by civil conflicts and political instability.21

There is low enforcement of laws and low accountability among institutions set up to address violence against women. Nigeria, South Africa, and Tunisia have laws that protect women subject to violence, but rates of violence against them remain high because of the lack of enforcement. In South Africa, for instance, despite the presence of laws against rape, only 8 % of reported cases in 2012 ended in convictions.22  In September 2019, the country experienced an increase in attacks against women, causing the president to call an emergency sitting of parliament where he described the country as one of the most unsafe places in the world to be a woman.

The law is not as effective as it could be at protecting women from violence in Africa. For example, spousal rape is not considered a criminal offence in many African countries. Several countries including Liberia and Guinea have passed laws prohibiting violence against women and gender-based discrimination at work, which have helped Africa to show a positive trajectory on legal protection overall. However, we have found no direct link between the existence of legal protection and violence against women in Africa. Ultimately, the issue of violence comes down to societal attitudes towards women and accepted social norms.

Overall, Africa is further away from gender equality in society than most other regions of the world. Although some African countries have made some headway on getting more women into key positions in politics, the continent is not performing well on opening up economic opportunities for women and has the world’s worst record on key social indicators such as maternal mortality. It must do better.


21 A well-known example is the targeting of attacks on girls and women by Nigerian group Boko Haram. In 2014, the organisation was responsible for the abduction of 276 schoolgirls from the town of Chibok.

22 Mercilene Machisa et al., Rape justice in South Africa: Retrospective study of the investigation, prosecution and adjudication of reported rape cases from 2012, Gender and Health Research Unit, South African Medical Research Council, 2017.

4.            Interventions

Africa needs new impetus in its journey towards gender parity. Making progress will require systematic action on a range of indicators by governments, companies, communities, and individual men and women. In this chapter, we summarise interventions in five priority areas that we believe are core to driving change effectively (Exhibit 14):

1.            Invest in human capital

2.            Create economic opportunities

3.            Leverage technology

4.            Shape attitudes

5.            Enforce laws, policies, and regulations

Assessing the impact of all individual interventions is impossible for a number of reasons. Rigorous gender-disaggregated data and impact evaluations are not available for many initiatives, and therefore many girls and women are “invisible” in the data. Creating an unbiased data picture is a fundamental building block to achieve gender equality. Furthermore, initiatives are often interrelated, complementing one another, and it is therefore difficult to disentangle their impact.

We also know that successful programmes have a number of common elements. First, they address deep-rooted attitudes about and behaviour towards women. Second, programmes are designed to achieve sustained impact. Third, they work with women as partners to identify issues and engage the most appropriate stakeholders who can be male or female but need to be effective agents of change. Finally, successful programmes incorporate monitoring and evaluation to track progress and provide information that can drive accountability and commitment to goals.

1.            Invest in human capital

Human capital plays a vital role in driving sustained economic growth and boosting productivity, and it is imperative that countries invest sufficient resources to improve the health, skills, experience, resilience, and knowledge of their citizens. According to the World Bank, 10 to 30 % of differences in per capita GDP between countries can be attributed to variations in human capital.23  More investment in human capital would be a direct investment in women who could make a higher contribution to Africa’s GDP. We focus on four dimensions—education, skills, literacy, and healthcare—that are necessary to enable that human capital to be effective.

Educate the girl child by funding and creating an enabling environment

Women’s economic prospects start in the schoolroom. Without education, they are unlikely  to have fulfilling lives. Educational systems are also useful conduits for the dissemination of information pertinent to social issues including, for example, sex education to reduce teenage pregnancy. Many governments in Africa have recognised the importance of educating girls as a key component of a drive towards gender equality. For the Namibian government in particular, the quality and equality of education has been a key priority over the past 20 years. The government has taken several measures to improve the share of girls completing school (and increase their access to vocational training, notably in science and technology fields).24 The government requires gender balance among teachers so that girls have relatable authority figures and role models of both genders in the classroom. Public funding of education is also key.  In Namibia’s government schools, primary and secondary education   has been free since 2016, and the government has made education compulsory for children between the ages of six and 16. Furthermore, the government diligently tracks outcomes in both attainment and equality in attainment. All of these efforts have culminated in Namibia being one of the few countries in Africa to achieve gender parity in education.

Other countries are taking similar measures to fund the education of girls. In Morocco, the government’s Tayssir programme offers cash transfers worth about 5 % of annual household consumption for families to spend on education. The scheme has been particularly successful in encouraging girls to stay in school and to return to school after dropping out. The cash transfer offered to parents resulted in an increase of about 12 % in re-enrolment.25  Burundi allocated 19 % of its public spending to education and instituted free schooling for basic education to improve equality between boys and girls. This led to 95 % enrolment (of both boys and girls) in primary schools and 27 % in secondary schools. Chad put an education plan in place for 2018–20 that incorporates legal, financial, and cultural measures to ensure gender parity. It includes making school attendance compulsory, strengthening teachers’ knowledge on particular characteristics of girls’ schooling, and giving girls grants and scholarships to cover equipment and transportation.

Raise women’s skills for the future world of work

Beyond school, there is a pressing imperative to raise women’s skills to equip them, not only for the kind of jobs available in Africa’s economies today, but also for the jobs of the future as Africa increasingly digitises and ultimately embraces automation technologies.26  Capability and skills training that have women in mind have been proven to enable them to thrive in the workplace. Given the large proportion of women in informal employment, it is critical that future skills programmes are designed with this target group in mind.


23 The Human Capital Project, World Bank, 2018.

24 Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare, 2010.

25 Najy Benhassine et al., Turning a shove into a nudge? A “labeled cash transfer” for education, NBER working paper number 19227, July 2013.

26     Recent MGI research found that, in South Africa, one million women employed in 2017 could be displaced by automation by 2030, and that between one million and two million women may need to transition into new jobs and develop different skills during this period to remain employed. African women are particularly vulnerable because they tend to work in sectors that are highly automatable. For instance, about 20 % of job displacements for women in South Africa will happen in the retail sector. See The future of women at work: Transitions in the age of automation, McKinsey Global Institute, June 2019.

The World Bank’s 2019 Africa’s Pulse report outlines three types of skills training that affect women’s productivity and earnings: (1) gender-sensitive agricultural extension services;

(2) socio-emotional skills training; and (3) information programmes that support women switching sectors.27  The first type of training aims to address the unique needs of women farmers. Initiatives involve increasing the number of female extension agents to serve this population and providing these agents with training on women’s specific needs. The second type is psychology-focused personal initiative training that encourages small business owners to be self-starting and future oriented, and to anticipate problems and plan ways to overcome them. In Togo, where this model was first tested, this type of training boosted business profits earned by female entrepreneurs by 40 %, compared with only

5 % from traditional business training. This approach has been applied in Ethiopia and Mexico and had positive outcomes. The third type of training encourages young women at university to take courses in male dominated sectors where pay is typically higher such as ICT.

One example of a skills-development programme,  targeted at women in Africa is a course supported by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, and operated by the African Union Commission to raise the skills of women working in agriculture.28  In Kenya, the African Centre for Women & ICT works with “high potential, disadvantaged women” to improve their access to leadership opportunities. Since 2011, the organisation has trained 25,000 women and young people.29

Equip women by enhancing their financial, digital, and legal literacy

Women’s literacy in three areas—financial, digital, and legal—needs to improve to advance their prospects and enable them to participate in today’s increasingly complex global and digital economy.

Financial literacy is key to empowering women and enabling their independence; it is essential to increasing women’s use of financial services. Low-cost, simple tweaks in the way financial institutions incorporate financial literacy in their outreach have been shown to have a large impact on company registration and deepen financial access. For example, in Malawi, solely encouraging women to register their companies did not have an impact on their profits.

However, when these women were offered a simple information session at a bank, including the offer of a bank account, their use of formal financial services increased, and this, in turn, helped to increase their profits by 20 % on average.30  Studies have also shown that financial literacy programmes are more effective when they are tailored to women.31  In East Africa, Telesom ZAAD almost doubled the share of women using mobile money services through a substantial information campaign emphasising convenience, backed by large-scale recruitment of female agents to encourage women to register.32

Improving women’s digital literacy is critical if women are to leverage technology to improve their lives. When women are digitally literate, they are able to access educational resources, health services, and information  via the internet or even stored on electronic devices, and  use technology to advance their businesses. There are several examples of programmes designed to boost women’s digital literacy. In Uganda, for instance, Finance Trust Bank,    Little, and Craft Silicon launched a free digital education programme for children, young people, and women. Based in Kampala, the initiative provides a solar-powered mobile van equipped with computers that travels across the city, including its deprived areas.33 In Kenya, Safaricom signed the GSMA Connected Women Commitment to increase the share of women in its mobile money and internet customer base. Safaricom partnered with organisations including Google to provide affordable phones, furnished relevant content on its phones, and developed “how to” guides to reduce knowledge gaps.34  As a result, Kenya’s GPS on digital inclusion of 0.95 is one of the highest in Africa.


27 Africa’s pulse, No 20, October 2019: An analysis of issues shaping Africa’s economic future, World Bank, 2019.

28 CAADP: Skills development for women in agriculture, Deutsche Gesellschaft fűr Internationale Zusammenarbeit, https://www.giz.de/en/worldwide/61137.html.

29 African Centre for Women & ICT, acwict.org.

30 Francisco Moraes Leitao Campos, Markus P. Goldstein, and David J. Mckenzie, Making it easier for women in Malawi to formalize their firms and access financial services, Gender Innovation Lab policy brief number 30, World Bank, 2019.

31 Addressing women’s needs for financial education, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development International Network on Financial Education, 2013.

32 Reaching half of the market: Women and mobile money – The example of Telesom in Somaliland, GSMA, April 27, 2015.

33 Finance Trust Bank in association with Craft Silicon Foundation, Little, and Craft Silicon launches free digital literacy program in Kampala – Uganda, Finance Trust Bank press release, November 2, 2018.

Increasing women’s legal literacy is important so that women are aware of their rights and the laws that protect them. In Zimbabwe, the Women and Law in Southern Africa organisation provides legal rights education as part of its 2019–23 strategy, producing training materials and developing information through media platforms. A number of African countries still have laws that explicitly discriminate against women, and it is important that women are aware of them so that they can push to have them overturned.

Deploy funds effectively to build accessible, appropriate, and affordable healthcare systems

Good healthcare is not just a valuable aspiration in itself, but is also the bedrock of human capital. In order for the workforce of a population to be productive and able to effectively participate in the economy, people need to be emotionally and physically healthy. According to the World Health Organization, Africa loses about USD 2.4 trillion every year due to lost workforce productivity.35  Women have particular healthcare needs as they enter into their reproductive years, ranging from access to safe family planning to quality care during pregnancy, but also including healthcare for babies and children for whom women are the primary carers. As we have discussed, there is significant scope to improve health outcomes for women in Africa, including access to better family planning, improving reproductive health, and, notably, reducing high rates of maternal mortality (see Box 5, “Measures to reduce maternal mortality”).

For many women, local clinics and community health centres are typically their initial, and sometimes only, port of call. Therefore, strengthening the primary healthcare system is at the heart of addressing women’s most pressing health challenges. A strong primary healthcare system should be able to provide adequate and affordable access to a broad range of basic and essential medical services with a strong focus on offering cost-effective preventative   care as well as addressing acute health challenges. For more than a decade, Rwanda has made a concerted effort to improve healthcare outcomes by building a strong primary healthcare system based on a vision of equity and inclusiveness. Rwanda has now achieved universal health coverage.36

A properly functioning health system requires investment to mitigate both supply and demand challenges, but it is not only about investing more but providing more healthcare for the money being put into the system. Both investment and the way that investment is used are linked closely to strong leadership, accountability through data and an understanding that investment in healthcare is not only an item of budget expenditure but an investment in growth.

Access to healthcare and trust in the system are important so that women use available services, but it is also vital that health centres are well equipped to handle demand. There should be adequate supply not only of drugs but also trained medical workers. In many African countries, health centres often run out of drugs and other medical supplies. For women, a shortage of contraception drugs can lead to unwanted pregnancy that can compromise their productivity and economic potential. In Senegal, the government has virtually eliminated contraception stockouts by deploying an “informed push” model that uses third-party logisticians for last-mile delivery to health centres.37 This method differs from the more traditional “pull” model in which nurses have to collect drugs from a nearby government medical store. The push model resulted in a 48 % increase in the consumption of contraceptives in one year in all 1,400 facilities across the country.


34 Adrine Muhura, Accelerating digital inclusion for women in Kenya, GSMA, May 28, 2019, gsma.com/ mobilefordevelopment/blog/accelerating-digital-inclusion-for-women-in-kenya.

35 A heavy burden – The indirect cost of illness in Africa, World Health Organization, 2019.

36 Primary Health Care Systems (PRIMASYS) – Case study from Rwanda, World Health Organization, 2017.

37 Babacar Gueye et al., Senegal has practically eliminated contraceptive shortages. Here’s how, World Economic Forum, November 17, 2017.

Looking ahead, Africa’s primary healthcare systems need to evolve to better cater to girls and young women. In many countries, services cater predominantly to married women with young children and healthcare workers do not have the training to offer youth-friendly services.

One of the most overlooked crises in Africa is HIV/AIDS among adolescent girls; in East and Southern Africa, 79 %  of all new infections in ten- to 19-year-olds are among women.38 One programme that aims to address this is DREAMS that was set up as a public-private partnership and that has achieved a decline of 25 to 40 % in new HIV diagnoses in pilot districts.39

2.            Create economic opportunities

Women need economic opportunities if countries are to realise the full potential of their human capital. Creating pathways for African women—the vast majority of whom work informally—into better-paid and more fulfilling jobs is a major priority. This outcome could be achieved by improving the quality of jobs in the informal sector or by enabling women to leave informal work and find improved working prospects in the formal sector. In this section, we focus on interventions in the formal sector.

“In the process of being a champion for women’s advancement, you have to be insistent because you’re not going to see results tomorrow. Find sponsors and leaders who will believe in what you do.” Faith Khanyile, CEO, WDB Investment Holdings, South Africa.

Focus on higher female participation in quality jobs in the formal sector

African countries should aim to create more jobs for women in the formal sector that offer financial security, employee benefits such as health insurance, and legal protections.

Regulation and the law can play a part. However, by definition, formal employment means company policies and practices are central to this effort. Several leading companies are making efforts to recruit and retain women. For example in South Africa, life insurer Assupol has an explicit policy of recruiting women into top leadership roles and even specifies that some roles are open only to women.

Lead from the top with a clear strategy and targets

Company leaders need to ensure that gender diversity on boards and executive committees is a priority, and need to be proactive in setting policies and communicating their vision to employees. Establishing targets helps to drive increases in women’s representation in the workplace, and many companies are now adopting them, thereby showing their commitment to change. Ideally, targets are backed up with a roadmap of implementation steps. Some companies have set targets at the recruitment stage. Access Bank mandates that the ratio   of recruits should not fall below 60:40 for either gender. One interviewee from a multilateral agency mentioned that her organisation in some cases stipulates, that a vacant role should be filled by a woman; this organisation has an equal gender split among its employees.


38 Women and HIV – A spotlight on adolescent girls and young women, UNAIDS, March 2019.

39 DREAMS: Partnership to reduce HIV/AIDS in adolescent girls and young women, USAID, https://www.usaid.gov/global- health/health-areas/hiv-and-aids/technical-areas/dreams.

Some organisations also set targets for women’s representation in leadership positions. Financial-services group Absa, listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, has a target of 30 % female board representation. Nigeria’s central bank mandates that all banks in the country should have 30 % female representation on boards. Multinationals with operations in Africa also set targets for their subsidiaries. For instance, French company

Orange requires all its subsidiaries to implement a target of 35 % female representation at the board level.40  Simply setting targets can provide clear benefits. McKinsey’s

2016 Women Matter survey revealed that 47 % of companies with clear targets have an above-average share of women in senior leadership positions. However, in order to achieve full effectiveness, it is also important that these targets are enforced and SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time bound.

These efforts should not be limited to the private sector. It is important for public institutions to put in place targets, too, to drive progress towards gender parity. African nations should follow the lead of countries such as Ethiopia, Rwanda, and South Africa that have clear targets for gender balance in their cabinets.

Put in place formal mentorship and sponsorship programmes for women Sponsorship and mentorship are not commonplace in African companies but some organisations are beginning to use these tools to promote gender equality in their ranks.

For instance, credit services company Wafasalaf based in Casablanca, Morocco, has implemented a formal sponsorship programme linking women and senior individuals outside the organisation and has achieved 43 % female representation on its executive committee. The CEO of a South Africa-based insurance company has started a development programme for female sales managers and a mentorship programme for new recruits. She notes that there is now 50 % female representation in the workforce.

Create a positive, inclusive, and supportive environment

There is an imperative not only to recruit women but also to ensure that their working lives are as sustainable as possible and that companies can retain the women they take on. While the burden of unpaid care work continues to fall unequally on women, companies will need to find ways to help women to accommodate both their family and work responsibilities. Research from Kenya suggests that mothers are more likely to use formal childcare arrangements and enter the labour force when free or low-cost childcare options are available.41  Clear promotion pathways, flexible working, childcare provision, and supportive parental leave policies are all important elements of making work attractive to women.

Several companies are active in this area. South Africa’s Absa has recently changed its policy to increase flexibility for employees, introducing part-time working and leave policies. Several companies are putting in place creative childcare options. In Kenya, SOCFINAF’s nine coffee plantations offer permanent workers crèches and nursery schools on site.42 In Burkina Faso, many women are employed on public works projects such as road building and environmental projects, which traditionally have no on-site childcare. A World Bank team developed mobile  crèches that followed women from site to site.43  These countries achieved slight increases in their GPS for labour participation of between 0.01 and 0.02 between 2015 and 2019.44.


40 Where are the women? Inclusive boardrooms in Africa’s top listed companies, African Development Bank, 2015.

41 Michael M. Loskin, Elena Glinskaya, and Marito Garcia, The effect of early childhood development programs on women’s labour force participation and older children’s schooling in Kenya, World Bank  policy research working paper WPS2376,  July 2010.

42 Workplace solutions for childcare, International Labor Organization, ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/—ed_protect/— protrav/—travail/documents/event/wcms_145935.pdf

While it is important that women are supported at work, it is also important that they are helped when they leave work to have children. Diageo, for instance, now offers 26 weeks of paternity leave to allow men to spend more time with their families upon the arrival of a new child. By normalising the absence of both genders from the workplace due to parental duties, such a policy has the potential to reduce the stigma that is sometimes attached to a woman’s time off on maternity leave and to share the burden of family care more equally. Furthermore, these fathers are better able to provide support at home that could make re-entry into the workplace a less stressful process for new mothers.

Many companies operating in Africa—and particularly in South Africa—are striving to create more inclusive working environments for women. The Top Employers Institute, a global human resources organisation that certifies excellence in employee conditions has certified 195 organisations as top employers in Africa; they operate in 31 countries and 23 industry sectors. Of these, the vast majority—84 %—are multinationals operating in Africa, with the remaining 16 % being African companies. South Africa has the most companies—99. Worldwide, 70 % of these top organisations have flexible working arrangements and representatives of 85 % of these companies say that they think gender equality should be a top priority.45

Unlock opportunities for women-owned businesses

Small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) are a key driver of economic growth. In emerging markets, they account for seven out of every ten jobs and it is notable that women own or operate more than one-third of SMEs in these economies.46

SMEs can benefit from the support of large corporations. However, less than one % of large corporations’ spending on suppliers is on women-owned businesses.47  Deliberate measures are needed to enable women-owned businesses to participate actively in  supply chains. In Nigeria, Dangote Cement creates opportunities by contracting female suppliers—40 % of the company’s suppliers are female. The International Finance

Corporation has partnered with Access Bank to extend credit to women-owned distributors to bring more women into Coca-Coca’s value chain.

Develop public and household infrastructure

Developing the infrastructure that can enhance the quality of women’s lives and unleash economic opportunities that could raise their incomes is a key consideration. Improving  the provision of public infrastructure from schools to transportation and water systems is vital in many economies to enable girls and women. Developing “household” infrastructure can help to reduce the amount of time women spend on unpaid chores in the home such as collecting water. An analysis of 25 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa showed that women and girls bear the primary responsibility for water collection in areas where water supplies are not readily accessible.48

3.            Leverage technology

Digital technology and internet access are spreading throughout Africa and can be the lever that opens many doors for women, helping to overcome current challenges on a number of indicators of gender equality.

McKinsey Global Institute

Since its founding in 1990, the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) has sought to develop a deeper understanding of the evolving global economy. As the business and economics research arm of McKinsey & Company, MGI aims to provide leaders in the commercial, public, and social sectors with the facts and insights on which to base management and policy decisions.

MGI research combines the disciplines of economics and management, employing the analytical tools of economics with the insights of business leaders. Our “micro-to-macro” methodology examines microeconomic industry trends to better understand the broad macroeconomic forces affecting business strategy and public policy. MGI’s in-depth reports have covered more than 20 countries and 30 industries. Current research focuses on six themes: productivity and growth, natural resources, labour markets, the evolution of global financial markets, the economic impact of technology and innovation, and urbanisation.

Recent reports have assessed the digital economy, the impact of AI and automation on employment, income inequality, the productivity puzzle, the economic benefits of tackling gender inequality, a new era of global competition, Chinese innovation, and digital and financial globalization.

MGI is led by four McKinsey & Company senior partners: James Manyika and Sven Smit (co-chairs), Jacques Bughin, and Jonathan Woetzel. Michael Chui, Susan Lund, Anu Madgavkar, Jan Mischke, Sree Ramaswamy, and Jaana Remes are MGI partners, and Mekala Krishnan and Jeongmin Seong are MGI senior fellows.

Project teams are led by the MGI partners and a group of senior fellows and include consultants from McKinsey offices around the world. These teams draw on McKinsey’s global network of partners and industry and management experts. The MGI Council, which includes leaders from McKinsey offices around the world and the firm’s sector practices, includes Michael Birshan, Andrés Cadena, Sandrine Devillard, André Dua, Kweilin Ellingrud, Tarek Elmasry, Katy George, Rajat Gupta, Eric Hazan, Acha Leke, Gary Pinkus, Oliver Tonby, and Eckart Windhagen. In addition, leading economists, including Nobel laureates, advise MGI research.

The partners of McKinsey fund MGI’s research; it is not commissioned by any business, government, or other institution. For further information about MGI and to download reports, please visit www.mckinsey.com/mgi

We have deliberately omitted the appendix (methology and forecasst assumptions), and the bibliographic remarks contained in the original.


The TextileFuture Newsletter of last week

Technology upgrading in East Africa’s Textiles and Apparel Sector (continued – Part 2) https://textile-future.com/?p=35228

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NCTO releases statement on Coronavirus https://textile-future.com/?p=35451 


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SquadLocker attracts USD 20 million investment to support Continued Growth https://textile-future.com/?p=35409

Ted Baker puts London headquarters on sale to shore up cash https://textile-future.com/?p=35498

Burberry brings products to Google search through Augmented Reality https://textile-future.com/?p=35508

LC Waikiki aims to become one of the three most Successful Fashion Retail Brands of Europe by 2023 https://textile-future.com/?p=35598

Up to 160 jobs at risk as Ted Baker announces shake-up https://textile-future.com/?p=37367


USDA – Cotton: World Markets and Trade update February 2020 https://textile-future.com/?p=35301

USDA Agricultural Biotechnology Annual of Kenya https://textile-future.com/?p=35391

USDA Agricultural Biotechnology Annual of Peru https://textile-future.com/?p=35453

USDA Agricultural Biotechnology Annual Republic of Kazakhstan https://textile-future.com/?p=35536

USDA Agricultural Biotechnology Annual of the Republic of South Africa https://textile-future.com/?p=35550


Uninterrupted growth of employment in Switzerland for 10 years https://textile-future.com/?p=35387 

G20 international merchandise trade continued to contract in fourth quarter of 2019 https://textile-future.com/?p=35575 

Global economy faces gravest threat since the crisis as coronavirus spreads https://textile-future.com/?p=37446   


Training on Emerging Technologies IDTechEx Masterclasses https://textile-future.com/?p=35414 

Swiss Federal Council seeks to further strengthen education, research and innovation https://textile-future.com/?p=35500


Satellites for monitoring CO2 emissions – CO2 tracking in space https://textile-future.com/?p=35521


50 years of composites celebrated at JEC World https://textile-future.com/?p=35332

Geneva International Motor Show 2020: Rinspeed’s “MetroSnap” shows up on the stages of Europe https://textile-future.com/?p=35362    

Hexcel’s leading position in Aerospace and Automotive makes Hexcel a trusted partner for Urban Air Mobility https://textile-future.com/?p=35412

WTiN to replace Innovate Textile & Apparel Asia with virtual conference https://textile-future.com/?p=35420

Discover New Digital Opportunities with Roland DG at FESPA 2020 https://textile-future.com/?p=354256

Breaking News: Corona is postponing JEC WOLRD in Paris, France to May 2020 https://textile-future.com/?p=35548

Burberry takes over Printemps in Paris, France https://textile-future.com/?p=35587

Beaulieu Fibres International prioritises collaborative product development & sustainable long-term partnerships at INDEX™20 https://textile-future.com/?p=35594

ITM 2020 will break new records with its occupancy rate approaching to 100 % https://textile-future.com/?p=37246

Breaking News: INDEX20 Geneva Exhibition Postponed to October 20-23, 2020 https://textile-future.com/?p=37287


Big Interview: Aaron Sanandres, CEO, Untuckit https://textile-future.com/?p=35530

H&M USA Launches Men’s Spring Essentials Selected by D’Angelo Russell https://textile-future.com/?p=37269


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Labour dilemmas remain as apparel embraces industry 4.0 https://textile-future.com/?p=35334


EU Commission clears the acquisition of sole control over SABIC by Saudi Aramcohttps://textile-future.com/?p=37267

New Products

Kidrobot elevates Vinyl with new, Limited-Edition Bhunny Figures – Series debuts with six iconic characters https://textile-future.com/?p=35339


Deckers Brands appoints a new Independent Director to its Board of Directors https://textile-future.com/?p=35427

Norbert Winkeljohann to succeed Werner Wenning as Chairman of Bayer’s Supervisory Board https://textile-future.com/?p=35427

Bob Chapek named Chief Executive Officer of The Walt Disney Company https://textile-future.com/?p=35427

IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva Proposes the appointment of Antoinette Sayeh as Deputy Managing Director https://textile-future.com/?p=35427

rue21 announces corporate leadership Changes https://textile-future.com/?p=35427

Outdoor Voices founder Ty Haney Is out as CEO https://textile-future.com/?p=35427

Raf Simons becomes Co-Creative Director at Prada https://textile-future.com/?p=35427

Kerim Türe, Modanisa’s CEO, Has Been Chosen as One of the “Top 50 Leaders of Islamic Economy” https://textile-future.com/?p=35427

Kemin Names Lauren Burt Head of Worldwide Communications https://textile-future.com/?p=35427


Tracking down the mystery of matter https://textile-future.com/?p=37242

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Can Supply Chains survive the Coronavirus? China, the U.S. and Germany are Key https://textile-future.com/?p=35540


A collection to take care of denim, people and the environment: amae, the new haikure x ISKO responsible project https://textile-future.com/?p=35477   

Reloved, the latest result of ISKO’s partnership with haikure, hits Milan Fashion Week with its responsible story https://textile-future.com/?p=35491

Sulzer deploys artificial intelligence solution at two Atlantica solar plants to avoid 665000 tons of CO2 emissions annually https://textile-future.com/?p=35527


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Free Webinar Week of the St.Gall University Executive School (March 2-5, 2020) https://textile-future.com/?p=35400

Webinar on Doing Business in the United Arab Emirates (March 10, 2020)  https://textile-future.com/?p=35404

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AATC 2020 Technical Manual – For Local and Global use https://textile-future.com/?p=35298