The picture in 2008: the World Bank’s latest estimates of poverty show that the number of people living under US$1.25 per day in Africa rose from 298 million in 1990 to 392 million in 2008. Sub-Saharan Africa has reduced the $1.25 per day poverty rate to 47% in 2008, the first time it has dipped below 50%. And the region saw falling absolute numbers of the extreme poor between 2005 and 2008, reversing the long-run increase since 1981. This has taken place despite a period of rapid population growth. The number of people living above US$1.25 a day has risen from 337 million in 1990 to 589 million in 2008, an increase of some 250 million over the period.
Looking ahead to 2025: the two food price spikes in 2007-08 and in 2010-11, which have estimated to have kept or pushed some 160 million people worldwide into poverty, have made the task of reducing poverty in Africa even more challenging. In a revision of earlier projections the World Bank now estimates that high food prices together with rapid, albeit decelerating population growth will cause the number of poor in Africa to rise, although the poor will constitute only 30% of the total population by 2025 compared to almost 50% in 1990.
Looking beyond 2025: assuming that progress beyond 2025 continues at the same pace as over 2015-25, absolute numbers of poor people in Africa will rise up to 2030, although the non-poor will grow at a much faster rate. MDG1 will be reached in around 2035 in sub-Saharan Africa, with a poverty rate of 28%. At that time, almost 1.3 billion people in Africa will be living on over $1.25 a day, but some 430 million will still be living on less than $1.25 a day. Projecting further, under the same assumptions, it would take an additional 44 years to eradicate poverty in sub-Saharan Africa - in 2079.