The Geography of the Region
The IGAD region stretches over an area of 5.2 million km2 that comprises the countries of Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda. The region has about 6960 Km of coastline with the Indian Ocean, Gulf of Aden, Gulf of Toudjoura and the Red Sea. Also, the IGAD region has a total of 6910 Km of international borders with Egypt, Libya, Chad, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Tanzania. Map 1 above shows the region. Some 70 percent of the IGAD region is made up of Arid and Semi Arid Lands (ASALs), which receive less than 600 mm of rainfall annually. The rest of the region has a great variety of climates and landscapes including cool highlands, swamp areas, tropical rain forests and other features typical of an equatorial region. Furthermore, the region possesses diverse ecosystems and agro-ecological zones at different altitudes ranging from 150 meters below sea level (Dalul) to about 4600 meters above the sea level (Mount Kenya). Socio-economically, most of the IGAD Member States belong to the worlde’s Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and share similar economic growth rates and social ethnic groups across their borders, which could be a good opportunity for regional integration, if appropriately utilised.
Farmlands account for 7 percent, forests 19 percent and permanent pastures 28 percent of the total land area. The remaining 46 percent is relatively unproductive or marginal land. Additionally, this region also contains extensive mineral resources that have not yet been fully explored and exploited. One of the main challenges in maximizing the agricultural potential of this region is the high degree of variability in rainfall patterns in terms of both space and time. Furthermore, the IGAD region is prone to recurrent droughts and dry spells, making it one of the most vulnerable regions on the African continent for climatic variations, which accentuates the need for policies and programmes that enhance the technical and research capacities of the region. Land and environmental degradation are the most serious threats to the region as both affect its agricultural production and economic growth. Such degradation does not only contribute to food insecurity, famine and poverty, but may equally fuel social, economic and political tensions that can cause conflicts, wider poverty and misery. Sustainable management of natural resources is therefore essential if the IGAD Member States are to achieve sustainable development, eradication of poverty, peace and security. This is particularly true for transboundary natural resources, like surface and ground water resources.
Demography of the Region
The IGAD region has a population of over 230 million people characterised by high natural population growth rates. The average population density is about 30 persons per km2. Variations in the population density between the IGAD countries are substantial ranging from 14.5 persons per km2 in Somalia to above 95 persons per km2 in Uganda. These variations are even more pronounced between the different ecological zones. For example, within the IGAD region there are deserts with scarcely anybody living in them, and conversely there are rural areas with high populations of more than 600 persons living on one km2. Similarly, urban densities are quite high, for instance in Nairobi where there are 4,509 persons/km2 and higher still in Addis Ababa at 5,165 persons/km2. However, the demographic age structure shows that some 50 percent of the population are youth, which provides a good opportunity for continued economic growth, if the youth is provided with, appropriate education and training.
Moreover, there is a major trend for urbanisation in the IGAD region with large numbers of people from the rural areas migrating into the big urban centres in search of employment and better incomes. The average rate of urbanisation in the region is estimated at 4.1 percent. The capital cities of Addis Ababa, Nairobi and Khartoum have populations of well over three million each. Socio-economic and environmental problems in the ever-growing urban centres are on-going challenge, and present a very real threat to peace and stability in some countries of the IGAD region.
Economy of the Region
The IGAD region is located in a strategic place in the Horn of Africa and blessed with a good climate, rich hinterland, a long coastline with deep natural ports and situated on major air traffic routes for tourism and commodity markets in Africa, the Far East, Middle East, and Europe. It is endowed with substantial natural resources such as oil and gas reserves, wildlife, high tourism potentials, diverse ecosystems, alternative energy resources (hydroelectric, solar and geothermal), marine, water and livestock resources. A population of over 230 million and vast expanses of territory coverage provide a sizeable market, which has the potential to attract both domestic and foreign investors.
The economic mainstay of the region is agriculture, both livestock and crop production, which provides the basis for food supplies and export earnings, as well as employment for over 80 percent of the population. The contribution of industries to the respective national economies of the IGAD Member States is about 15-20 percent, on average. Since they produce similar commodities and there is a low level of infrastructure development in the region, the level of intra-state trade remains low and markets are neither inter-dependent nor inter-linked. Among the impediments to development within the region is the poor transportation infrastructure, more so, for landlocked countries such as Ethiopia, South Sudan and Uganda. IGAD’s over-arching objective of regional integration is to create an open, unified, regional economic space for private operators – a single market open to competitive entry and well integrated into the global economy. This requires both regional infrastructure as well as the gradual harmonization of policies for removal of physical and non-physical barriers to inter-state transport and communications. Competitiveness of the region through trade expansion is hampered by the poor and inefficient road and railway network systems that in turn raise transport costs and lead to burdensome trade logistics. The road and railway missing links entail that the existing networks are not optimally utilized, and that opportunities are being lost due to the lack of economies of scale necessary to attract and sustain private investments in these networks. The other modes of transport also have specific challenges within the region. Key challenges for the railway sector include aging tracks and lack of maintenance, different gauges of tracks which prevents seamless regional connectivity, shortage of serviceable rolling stock that limits operational performance, and limited ranges of investment versus profitability choices for railway companies to invest in upgrading existing or developing new rail networks. Seaports within the region have capacity constraints that result in congestion and berthing delays. Lastly, growth in the region’s air traffic is not being matched with enhanced connectivity within the region. The air traffic control systems and the airport infrastructure are also inadequate.
Most of the IGAD Member States belong to the world’s Least Developed Countries (LDC). They face both human and material challenges in their pusuit for development. Nevertheless, the region has a wide range of agro-ecological zones (AEZ) with rich biodiversity and diverse agricultural potential, which if effectively cultivated and managed could turn the Region into a breadbasket for Africa and neighbouring Asian countries. It is against this backdrop that IGAD Member States have chosen to enhance their regional co-operation in an effort to maximize the potential of the vast resources and propel the region to new economic growth levels. Mobilising the necessary resources for the implementation of development programmes at the national and regional levels is a huge challenge for both IGAD and its Member States. The capacity of IGAD and the Member States to cope with development problems of the region on their own and without substantial external support is a consideration, which highlights the importance of regional cooperation and the IGAD as a regional organization.
The region is increasingly moving towards democratic governance and has made good progress towards establishing a competitive economy. Good governance with appropriate and conducive structures and institutions is a significant prerequisite for the positive outcomes of sustainable development at all levels. The IGAD member states have been progressively taking tangible steps towards improving governance systems both at the national and regional levels by strengthening structures and institutions in all development sectors and their respective inter-linkages by ensuring coherence, integrating policies, minimizing duplication of efforts and wastage of resources, and strengthening institutional capacities. The region has realised commendable economic performance through improvements in transparency and accountability, decentralization and empowerment, social inclusiveness and democratization. Nevertheless, some macroeconomic challenges remain which require continued and deepening institutional reforms and creation of an enabling environment for private-sector development as well as capacity development. Civil Society and non-state actors are not playing their role and should have much bigger role to play in the IGAD’s development initiatives such as project preparation and implementation.The IGAD civil society and non-governmental organizations Forum which was established pursuant to the decision of the IGAD Council of Ministers should serve as the mechanism to involve civil society appropriately in the policy formulation and strategic planning discussions, and the planning, designing and implementation of IGAD programmes and processes. Governance, peace and security and humanitrian affairs will have to increasingly play a pivotal role in responding to the various adversities that the region faces.
IGAD thrusts in regional development
As part of the effort to deliver its mandate, IGAD has devoted considerable resources and energy towards mitigating the effects of drought, desertification and food insecurity in the region. Despite these efforts, however, drought and food insecurity continue to be major critical threats to the region. Hence, IGAD has adopted an integrated, multi-sectoral and multi-disciplinary approach to address these threats. This new approach would contribute more effectively to the attainment of resilient economic development in the region, particularly in areas where the economic mainstay depends on primary production. With a view to ending drought emergencies while enhancing food security and environmental protection, maintaining peace and promoting economic integration in the region, IGAD continues to advance the implementation of the following multi-sectoral and multi-disciplinary agendas.
Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Food Security (ALFS)
Agriculture and Livestock remain the dominant component of the economies of the IGAD member countries in terms of their contribution to GDP, employment and income. One of the main thrusts of IGAD is to boost agricultural production and sustain management of natural resources and the environment to ensure resilient livelihoods and sustained economic growth. This is in line with the mission of the African Union and its organs. IGAD is charged with the responsibility of supporting national agricultural policies and promoting cooperation among the member states for mutual benefit while ensuring that these policies are based on rational use of natural resources and also encompass sound environmental management for sustainable development. Following one of the worst droughts in the region that particularly affected Somalia in 2010 and 2011, the region adopted the IGAD Drought Disaster Resilience and Sustainability Initiative (IDDRSI) and a number of the related initiatives aimed at operationalizing drought resilience in the region’s arid and semi-arid lands (ASALs). Furthermore, IGAD developed the IGAD Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) in response to the Maputo Summit Decision of 2003.
Other initiatives include the establishment of the Dryland Agricultural Research and Technology Programme aimed at enhancing food security in the dryer parts of the region through cooperation, integration, and exchanges of technologies and information on the promotion of production in the ASALs. This indicates clearly that, for sound socio-economic development, the real growth will be realized by developing this sector as the leading engine of agricultural growth. Development of this sector will be vital for poverty reduction, wealth creation and improving food security.
The agricultural sector (in its broadest sense) has a significant contribution to make to the economic development of the region generating almost 70 percent of export earnings. It employs more than 80 percent of the workforce and it is likely to remain the major source of inputs for the region’s emerging industrial sector. Considering the sector’s contribution to the GDPs of member states, it contributed 43 percent to Ethiopia’s GDP and 40 percent to that of Somalia. For Sudan, Kenya and Uganda the sector contributed 34 percent, 26 percent and 23 percent respectively. Countries like South Sudan and Djibouti had the lowest contributions to their GDP (15 percent and 4 percent respectively) (see table 3). In terms of economic growth rates, Ethiopia has the highest rate at 7.1 percent, while other IGAD member states, on average had about 2.5 percent.
Natural Resources and Environment Protection (NREP) Sector
The IGAD region is characterized by complex geological and topographical formations that exhibit a wide diversity of terrains and landscapes. This diversity has produced regional variations as manifested with different ecological zones such as the East African Rift Valley, deserts, arid-, semi-arid, dry-, dry sub-humid, humid, mountainous and alpine lands in the region. In the distant past, the IGAD region had a pristine environment and intact natural resources. With time, however, human activities coupled with climate change have dramatically altered the extent, type, composition and quality of ecosystems and natural resources in the region. In fact, recent studies indicate that currently, only 5 percent of the original ecosystems / habitats remain intact in the region. This means that 95 percent of the original ecosystems have been either converted for other land use forms or have been degraded severely or moderately by different drivers. The main drivers of environmental and natural resources include climate change, frequent drought, high population growth, overgrazing, forest degradation, soil and land degradation, wildlife poaching and trafficking, desertification, etc. The impact of these drivers is the reduction of the capability of the different ecosystems to provide the necessary goods and services essential for the survival of living things in the region.
The contribution of the environmental resources to the IGAD economy is massive. These agricultural sector alone accounts for large contributions to the regions gross domestic product (including indirect links to other economic sectors), export earnings, government revenues, and jobs in the formal economy. Other environmental income contributions to the economy come from tourism based on IGAD’s natural endowment of wildlife, mountains, rangelands, beaches, and coral reefs, as well as timber production from forests and fish catches from lakes, rivers, and the Indian Ocean.
IGAD’s development is largely dependent on natural resources’ wealth. Citizens within the IGAD region—like all people on Earth—depend on nature to sustain their lives and livelihoods. Not only do they obtain from nature the basic goods needed for survival—such as water, food, and fiber—they also rely on nature to purify air and water, produce healthy soils, cycle nutrients, and regulate climate.
The natural resources are the drivers of national and regional economic development. The resources include fresh water and marine and coastal water ecosystems; forests and wildlife, wetlands, rangelands, arable land and mountains; minerals and energy resources, and rich biodiversity. The IGAD member States recognize that a clean and healthy environment is a prerequisite for sustainable development, and development activities in various productive and social sectors including agriculture and livestock, energy, industry, infrastructure, may pose negative impacts leading to the degradation of the environment.
IGAD priorities for coastal and marine environments include the support and implementation of the Abidjan and Nairobi Conventions and the African Process for the management of Africa’s coastal and marine resources. These seek to: control pollution and coastal erosion; promote sustainable use of living resources; promote sustainable management of key habitats and ecosystems; and promote sustainable economic development.
While it is clear that natural resources make a very important contribution to the basic needs of rural people, a major question relates to how they contribute to poverty reduction in terms of official figures. Most countries in the IGAD for instance are expected to maintain a strong economic performance with a growth rate of more than 6 percent during the projection periods of 2014 and 2015. Growth will be driven by a number of factors including improved performances in the agricultural, mining, tourism and industrial sectors, all of which are reliant on natural resources. Notably, two countries, namely Ethiopia and Uganda, are projected to grow at around 7 percent or more during the projection period; while other countries such as Djibouti will most likely achieve growth rates of between 5 percent and 7 percent. Even for countries with relatively low projected growth rates, such as Eritrea, and Sudan, the projected growth rates are in almost all cases higher than those of 2013 all largely attributable to natural resources.
Regional Economic Cooperation and Integration (RECI) Sector
IGAD’s focus for regional economic cooperation and integration is to create an open, unified, regional economic space for the business community – a single market open to competitive entry and well integrated into the continental and global economies. This focus requires both regional infrastructure as well as the gradual harmonization of policies for the removal of barriers to inter-state communications. Globalisation trends of the world economy which offer vast opporunities at the same time pose major constraints for the IGAD region. They also offer potential benefits if they are exploited as appropriate policy measures and structural changes in a combined effort. Among the four Divisons that constitute IGAD’s operations and reflect its major areas of focus is the Economic Cooperation and Integration and Social Development Division which has the following programme areas:
- Trade, Tourism and Industry
- Infrastructure Development
- Health and Social Development
In the transport and infrastructure sub-sector, the IGAD interventions are based on the Horn of Africa Initiative (HOAI). The HOAI was designed to provide the IGAD Region with badly needed connectivity but guided by a broad regional policy that calls for a safe, secure and efficient integrated infrastructure system responsive to the needs of the people and the economy and to strengthening of regional integration by unlocking small scattered markets along the region and creating a bigger regional market space that will enhance IGAD’s economic competitiveness. Therefore the main thrust for the IGAD regional infrastructure is based on the HOAI and goes in line with the AU PIDA strategic framework for 2040. The IGAD Free Trade Area (FTA) and the Minimum Integration Plan envisaged in the six stages for the accomplishment of the African Economic Community (AEC), which include the creation of a free trade area and customs union in each of the eight regional blocks by 2017 that is too ambitious to achieve. The implementation of the IGAD FTA entails the establishment of Free Mobility Regime through the implementation of a Protocol for the Free Movement of Persons. This aims to reduce travel restrictions persisting in the region and to facilitate movement, the right of establishment of business and employment, residence, the acquisition of work permits, and pastoral mobility.
In the industry sub-sector IGAD is scaling up industry activities like minerals resources processing and development, agro-processing, cotton, textiles and apparels, metal processing and fabrication in conjunction with its member states. The successful implementation of these industry activities will enhance regional integration and economic cooperation and value addition. More importantly it will add value to the living standards of citizens in the member states as it boosts intra-African trade. In line with the African Mining Vision, IGAD is involved in the activities to strengthen the recently established African Minerals Development Centre.
Social Development (SD) Sector
The ultimate goal of IGAD’s ezistance is the welfare of its population in the form of human security. IGAD aims to accelerate economic and social development and integration of the members of the region through integration efforts of RECs and the Member States. IGAD’s health and social development agenda encompasses all human development issues and upgrading of human welfare in the IGAD region with focus on youth, children, women, and other vulnerable population catagories. This programme is to provide basic services and enhance social development for the people of the IGAD region. The health and social development programme area covers a broad range of sectors which include health, education, employment, social protection, migration, culture, population, and sports.
Successful accomplishment of social and cultural development should be the basis for regional integration agenda in IGAD regio. So vitally, social development has multiplier and huger positive effect on facilitates achievement of other IGAD strategic objectives in maintaining peace and security throughout the region and promoting advancement in terms of political, economic, environment and agricultural sector leading to sustainable development of the region, and consequently contributing to the continental integration and development. Social development in term of availability of the education, health and wellbeing of the people would enhance the long term development by providing conditions and human capital for decent employment opportunities, by enhancing capacities for implementation of innovative social protection schemes; and by building and improving governance institutions through strengthening of social dialogue.
Peace and Security (PS) Sector
Peace and security are fundamental prerequisites for the attainment of sustainable development. Threats to peace and security are interlinked and comprise various human insecurities that emanate from both inter and intra-state conflicts and transnational security threats such as terrorism, human and drug trafficking, illicit use of small arms and light weapons among other causes. The resulting political and social problems further threaten development efforts and complicate interventions to alleviate various related challenges.
In Africa, no region is more plagued with protracted violent conflicts than the IGAD region. The presence of more than four United Nations and African Union peace support operation with more than 50,000 troops in the region (Darfur-Sudan, Abyei, Somalia, South Sudan), hundreds of Qatari military observers on the Djibouti-Eritrea Border and thousands of western military forces on the Djibouti, emphasizes the peace and security challenges afflicting the IGAD region. According to various studies, IGAD member states, including South Sudan, which was sucked into a deeper political crisis and conflict at the end of 2013, are listed among the thirty-five most fragile countries in the World. Sudan faces conflict in Darfur, Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile. Terrorism has been source of grave threats to the IGAD region’s peace and development. Since 1993, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, South Sudan and Uganda have faced terrorist attacks by Harakat Al Shabaab Al Mujahidden (Al Shabaab) and the Lords Resistance Army (LRA) operating in Uganda and South Sudan.
Complicated by the legacy of colonialism, border disputes have become factors of distrust, and instability with wider regional implications. In some instances, these border disputes have escalated into border wars and led to military invasions. The Ethiopia-Somalia war of 1977, the recent Ethio-Eritrea conflict of 1998, the Djibouti-Eritrea conflicts of 1995 and 2008, and the Sudan-South and Sudan border related wars in 2012 are good examples. As a result, the IGAD region was plagued by protracted violent conflicts and still is besieged by internal and international, mainly border related, wars.
On the positive note, IGAD has also been at the forefront in the efforts to address these peace and security challenges. Indicative of the progress the region has made in the past two decades or so, in actual terms, IGAD, as institution, has now been transformed from being primarily a group of states determined to fight drought and desertification into a prominent Regional Economic Community (REC), without which no peace and security issues could be effectively dealt with in the region. IGAD has relatively far better experience in peace and security and is therefore better equipped to directly address conflict situations. IGAD is also contributing to the continental peace and security mechanisms and peace support operations. In terms of actual troop contributions, IGAD MSs (Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, Djibouti) are the leading troop contributing countries to the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), the UN and the AU Hybrid Peacekeeping Missions in Darfur –UNAMID, Abyei-UNISFA), South Sudan-UNMISS, UNMIL and the Verification and Monitoring Mission in Sudan (2003) as well as the on-going Monitoring and Verification Mission in South Sudan since 2014. IGAD organs have gradually also become more proactive in peace processes and initiatives such as South Sudan, Somalia and Sudan. As primary targets of terrorist attacks, the IGAD Member States are at the forefront of fighting Al-Shabaab in Somalia and in the Regional Cooperation Initiative for the Elimination of the Lord’s Resistance Army (RCI-LRA).
More essentially, in addressing the root causes of protracted conflicts, the IGAD region is increasingly embracing democratic constitutional reforms and empowerment of local communities through increased decentralization, devolution and federalism. Examples include diversity accommodation and decentralization of power in South Sudan, Kenya, and Ethiopia and to a varying degree in Sudan and Uganda. This has created a feeling of ownership and accountability in the social development process. This trend needs to be deepened to ensure local authorities have the power and the capabilities for designing and implementing of the national development plan, and eventually to create an ultimate desire among the people for further development. Despite being sometimes violent and most often uncompetitive, the IGAD region has witnessed surge of regular elections. Examples include Djibouti (2013), Uganda (2010), Kenya (2007), and Ethiopia (2005). This is a significant success and a trend that should be upheld.
The region has also registered progresses in other sectors that could serve as enablers to IGAD as a region and institution to address threats to peace and security. Fastest growing countries, surge in middle class, overall improvement in all sectors including social development and gender, infrastructure-led integrative opportunities, the increasing importance of borderlands, are some of these progresses. With the current promising economic development and overall improvement in governance, there will be an increase in income, and an emerging middle class. Annually, 2% of the youth will be connected via mobile telephones and the Internet, adding millions of the region's inhabitants to the more technologically conversant and connected generations.
Nevertheless, with such positive mega trends, there are also negative developments, that might portend a more negative scenario in the region. By 2050, the population of IGAD will be 400 million; a substantial increase from today's 230 million. More than 55 per cent of this population will then be at a relatively young age (below 20 years). With an increasingly highly connected, conversant, mobile and vocal but unemployed young population, social unrest could unfortunately outpace reform. The shortage of fresh water, gaps between supply and demand for energy and electricity, and a widening income gap, associated social unrest may increase vulnerabilities of communities to extremists’ ideologies, international crime and transnational threats. Access to land and water remains one of the security and development concerns prevailing in the IGAD region particularly because of cultural, ethnic and economic undertones. With an ever increasing population and the urge for families to secure land, conflicts over land create tensions in communities. While violence could become increasingly localized, its impact will be global with transnational implications such as organized crime in the form of drug trafficking, human trafficking and resultant displacement of populations. Despite limited research, reports indicate that terrorism is also being increasingly funded by drug trafficking, poaching and human trafficking, using these routes. With fast growing aviation, road, maritime and railway transportation services, and expanding aviation traffic to and from the region, drug trafficking can certainly be expected to increase. With the surge of economic growth in the IGAD region, business transactions, foreign investment, transfers of remittances, passenger and freight volumes and the speed of air and other transportation, the region is increasingly becoming vulnerable to money laundering, drug trafficking, piracy, illegal fishing and other trans-national financial criminal acts. With the development of cities that will increasingly prove difficult to govern and provide with basic services the surge in the income gap, associated social unrest and criminal activities may increase. With more extractive exploration and exploitation of natural resources in once neglected borderlands, more localized conflicts over land use may also increase. The peripheries may become centres of oil and mineral exploration and exploitation thus intensification of tension and conflicts between the traditional centres and peripheries of African states may take place.
The progress made so far are the result of reforms in economic and governance sectors. For further accelerated progress, deficit in governance remains the paramount challenge. Almost all protracted and complicated problems in the IGAD region relate to an absence of legitimacy either due to unpopular governance and lack of public and institutional depth in the accommodation to diversity, or the lack of capacity and political will to deliver public goods. As diversified, more connected and more vocal generations join the electorate, and, contestations during voting may become source of violence and further conflicts. The nature of the states, nature of domestic social and political forces including political parties at national and sub-national level, and the nature of international and regional crises and interventions also significantly affect the peace and security of the IGAD region.
Gender Affairs (GA) Sector
Despite disparities among MSs, the IGAD region hosts deeply patrilineal and patriarchal cultural societies. There are pervasive gender inequalities in various dimensions, including access to education, information, employment, credit, land, policy inputs, and decision-making power. The economic, social and political status of women is relatively lower than that of their male counterparts. These inequalities reflect female disadvantage and have in the past been viewed as either human rights or social policy issues with little impact on overall economic performance. In recognition of these facts and the need to improve the status of women, the Gender Policies of MSs aim at promoting gender equality and empowering women. A unique feature of economies in the IGAD region is that both women and men play considerable economic roles. Gender is a critical economic issue and not only a social equity or human rights concern. Agriculture is the primary source of employment for men and women, with women providing a higher proportion of the labour force, despite country specific or sub-sectoral production variations. In most IGAD Member States, women and men are not equally distributed across the productive economy: agriculture is a female-intensive sector while industry and services are male-dominated.
Moreover, different sectoral growth patterns make diverse demands on female and male labour time usage and have different implications for the gender divisions of income and labour. This is particularly critical in the context of addressing pro-poor, shared or equitable growth and trade expansion in IGAD region, where many trade-oriented sectors (e.g. livestock, horticulture, tea, coffee and cotton) rely on female or male labour. The informal sector dominates the economy of the IGAD region, women take more than half of the informal traders including in the cross-border economy. There are sharp gender inequalities in access to key productive assets including- land, labour, financial services, technology, and inputs; coupled with education and health care. These differences directly or indirectly limit economic growth, productivity, and welfare. Elimination of gender gaps in education alone in Sub Saharan Africa leads o 0.5-0.7 percentage point increase in annual growth rate of per capita GDP. Educational equality may proxy for other types of equality, such as in health care access, access to agricultural inputs and household bargaining power. Intervention in the agriculture, informal economy, and health would take the region far in bringing gender quality.