West Africa, the most unequal region of the continent

Most governments prefer to "ignore" the crisis, "rather than solve it," Oxfam and Development Finance International say in a report.

The World with AFP Posted today at 03h02, updated at 07h53

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In Nigeria (here in Lagos), the five richest men in the country have a combined wealth that exceeds the national budget for 2017. Nyancho NwaNri / REUTERS

West Africa is the region of the continent which concentrates the biggest inequalities, warn in a report published Tuesday 9 July non-governmental organizations Oxfam and Development Finance International (DFI).

"A small but growing group of citizens of the region is becoming incredibly rich"but "The vast majority of the population" is deprived of the essential, in particular of"Quality education, health care and decent jobs"according to this study.

Despite a "Unprecedented economic growth" for twenty years in the region, "Today the richest 1% of West Africans earn more than the rest of the population"deplore the NGOs.

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In Nigeria, where 60% of the population lives on less than 1,25 dollars a day, the country's five richest men have a combined fortune of 29,9 billion, more than the country's entire national budget for 2017.

About 100 hospitals "modern and well equipped"

Instead of curbing this phenomenon, the governments of the 16 countries considered "Exacerbate inequalities by under-funding public services, such as health and education, and not effectively fighting tax evasion and corruption".

The tax benefits offered to multinationals cost the 9,6 region billions of dollars a year, which is enough "Build about 100 modern and well-equipped hospitals"according to NGOs. Universal health coverage in West Africa is the lowest of all regions of the continent, with 38% on average, against for example 47,2% in East Africa and 50,2% in Southern Africa, the report says.

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All states, however, are not at the same stage. The most committed to reducing inequalities are Cape Verde, Mauritania and Senegal; the least engaged are Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Niger.

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