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Slow growth in Sub-Saharan Africa has meant increases in both the share and number of the poor in the 1990s, leaving it as the region with the largest share of people living below $1 a day. The forecast anticipates per capita growth averaging 1.6 percent over the 2006-15 period – a reversal of the region’s long-term historical decline. But even this is far short of the growth needed to reduce poverty to half the 1990 level. In fact the number of poor is expected to rise from 314 million in 2001 to 366 million people by 2015 in Sub-Saharan Africa. Africa also remains highly dependent on commodity exports and is still experiencing political and economic instability. 

Sub-Saharan Africa, however, is a region with diverse performers.  There are a few countries that have sustained a remarkable growth and achieved some progress in poverty reduction and other MDGs, such as Uganda and Ghana. The recent survey indicates that Cameroon is making progress in achieving the poverty target.

HIV/AIDS stands as the leading cause of death in Sub-Saharan Africa, but malaria and tuberculosis are also serious problems. These epidemics present a major public health, economic and social challenge. In Sub-Saharan Africa life expectancy has declined from 50 to 46 years since 1990. Five countries still have life expectancies less than 40 years of age. The main reason for its declining life expectancy is the high infant mortality rate, 103 per 1,000 live births, with HIV/AIDS as the leading cause of deaths. Africa is the region with the lowest average primary school completion rates. Infrastructure in Sub-Saharan Africa is not well developed: only 13 percent of the roads are paved, and less than 3 percent of the population have access to a telephone line or mobile phone.

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