Demand for social protection programs within more empowered segments of the poor population in African societies will be on the rise due to the historically high levels of poverty, faster economic growth, rapid urbanization, and increasingly open, pluralistic political systems. Resources required to meet this future demand will be substantial and are bound to compete with investments required to accelerate and broaden the current economic recovery process. But countries that fail to address the demand are likely to face social as well as political unrest.
African governments are spending substantial and increasing amounts of resources on health and education, and efforts will have to be made to markedly improve access to these public services for the poor and vulnerable. The impact of recurrent climate and weather shocks reminds us that functional safety nets barely exist in African countries. These countries can and must make substantial progress in developing functional social protection schemes in the coming decade as stability and growth of their economies will depend on the extent to which such progress is achieved.
This Thematic Research Note sets out potential strategies to maximize synergies between the provision of social services and investments to accelerate economic growth in order to improve future social and growth outcomes of public expenditures in African countries. The Note also reviews the different types of social safety programs that are being implemented and examines their cost, effectiveness, and adaptability to the African context.