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Africa has been making substantial progress in human development. Poverty levels are falling, incomes are rising, and education and health outcomes are improving. The Human Development Index shows 1.5% annual growth, and 15 countries are now considered to have medium to very high human development. African countries with high and rising levels of human development are well integrated into global markets with diversified exports that create employment.

There is room for more progress in the areas of inclusion, gender equality and environmental sustainability. Exclusion and unequal access to economic and social opportunities continue to inhibit human rights, improved livelihoods and the expansion of skills. Environment related challenges - climate change, natural resource depletion and energy access - are also hindering sustainable human development. In response, the post-2015 development agenda for Africa targets equitable and socially-inclusive economic growth and structural changes,focusing on empowerment, governance, social transformation and gender equality.

Integrating further into value chains can increase human development in Africa. New technology and innovation are critical for ensuring the benefits of greater integration into local, regional and global value chains and managing the associated risks for the poor and marginalised. Developing value chains to raise agricultural productivity can generate jobs and increase social cohesion, particularly for countries recovering from conflict. More efficient value chains should profit small producers, the poor and women. Governments, the private sector and co-operatives should protect their rights by promoting resilience, streamlining and competitiveness.

Figure 4.4 Gender inequality and tertiary education enrolment, 2012

Figure 4.4 Gender inequality and tertiary education enrolment, 2012