Beat poverty by investing in young people - Bill and Melinda Gates

Investing in the health and education of young people will lift economies in Africa which are struggling with extreme poverty, research from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation found.

In the second edition of the annual Goalkeepers Data Report, released on Tuesday, the philanthropists outline what it will take to bring about the “third wave” of the world’s poverty reduction. Bill and Melinda Gates first published the report last year and will continue to do so until 2030 to keep track of progress made in achieving the United Nation’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

The research found that extreme poverty is heavily concentrated in sub-Saharan African countries. It is estimated by 2050 this is where 86% of extremely poor people in the world will live. This is why it is a priority for the world to reduce poverty in Africa.

The challenge specifically in Africa is that poverty is concentrated in a handful of the fastest growing countries. By 2050 it is projected that 40% of the world’s extreme poor will live in two countries - Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

By 2050, the 10 countries where 65% of the world’s extreme poor will live are Nigeria, the DRC, Madagascar, Somalia, Burundi, Malawi, Zambia, South Sudan, the Central Africa Republic and Guinea Bissau.

To solve it, the research suggests investing in the health and education of young people, or human capital. Africa predominantly has a young population, with nearly 60% under the age of 25. The median age is 18.

“Poor countries can chart a new course by investing in young people,” the report read. “If young people are healthy, educated and productive, there are more people to do the kind of innovative work that stimulates rapid growth.”

Human capital investments in sub-Saharan Africa could increase the size of the economy by nearly 90% by 2050, according to the report.

It concluded by reiterating that what happens to young people in Africa will determine if the world makes progress in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. It also appealed to governments to invest in the health and education of young people.

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