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Seychelles first African country to move into very high human development group | 12 December 2019

Seychelles first African country to move into very high human development group

Minister Adam and Mrs Serumaga pose with a copy of the report (Photo: Louis Toussaint)

The United Nations Development Programme’s human development report 2019, in which Seychelles is the first African country to move into the very high development category, was officially launched in a brief ceremony at Savoy Resort & Spa, Beau Vallon yesterday afternoon.

The report, the 26th in a series published by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) since 1990, explores inequalities in human development across the globe in a changing environment.

For this latest edition, a new generation of inequities has been considered, extending beyond disparities in income to also encapsulate disparities in opportunity.

While the report indicates that the gap in basic living standards is narrowing, new and emerging inequities such as access to tertiary education and access to broadband are emerging while climate change, gender inequality and violent conflict continue to entrench basic and new inequalities alike.

In her opening address yesterday, UNDP resident representative for Mauritius and Seychelles, Amanda Serumaga, commended the government of Seychelles for investing in human development through initiatives such as free tertiary education, free healthcare and widespread access to utilities, all of which have resulted in high human development and the exemplary ranking.

“The ranking achieved by Seychelles first of all, it means that it is possible, and it is possible for the African continent. I think what Seychelles has done, particularly as a small island developing state (Sids) is it demonstrated that if you invest in human development, and for Seychelles in particular, it has resulted in high human development, so of course the government of Seychelles, and over the course of the 10 years that this is applied, is to be commended for this achievement,” said Mrs Serumaga.

“I can tell you that as someone who has visited Seychelles over the course of six or seven years the difference in terms of your infrastructure, the fact that you continue to access goods and services, the fact that you have digital transformation going on in terms of access to the internet and so on, these are the things that all add up to human development,” Mrs Serumaga explained.

The Human Development Index (HDI) assesses three basic dimensions of human development, namely a long and healthy life, access to knowledge and a decent standard of living.

Seychelles’ HDI value for 2018 is 0.801, positioning the country 62nd out of 189 countries and territories. It must be noted that between 2000 to 2018, Seychelles’ HDI value increased by 12.6 percent with life expectancy increasing by 2.6 years at birth and a 2.2 years increase in the mean years of schooling between the period of 1990 to 2018. Furthermore, Gross Net Income (GNI) per capita increased by around 82.9 percent between 1990 and 2018.

In her address, Mrs Serumaga made mention of some missing data on inequality and gender for Seychelles noting that such data is available at the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) but was not finalised by the time it was required for the compilation of the report.

Asked if considering such data could negatively impact on Seychelles’ ranking, Mrs Serumaga noted that such is unlikely, on account that “Seychelles has been on the high trajectory for quite a while, so you’re still likely to stay the highest human development country in Africa even if we add these measures”.

Similarly, Minister for Health Jean-Paul Adam, on behalf of the government of Seychelles, spoke of the policies implemented by the government over the past four decades towards the socio-economic development of the country and its people.

Minister Adam listed the noteworthy achievements including programmes to boost resilience against climate change while improving sustainable livelihoods, Seychelles’ leading role in the development of early childhood and achievements as the blue economy champion among others.

Minister Adam continued to state that the government remains committed to investing in health and education in a bid to maintain and improve the ranking in future periods.

“We must therefore acknowledge that no matter how great the achievement, collective action is very important for human development. We will not be able to beat inequality on our own, we need to work with international organisations and fellow countries to achieve positive results,” Mr Adam stated, urging the African states to remain vigilant and firm in their commitments to address the new generation of disparities that threaten the continued prosperity and achievements of the African continent.

The Human Development Report 2019; Beyond income, beyond average, beyond today: Inequalities in human development in the 21st century was then officially launched by Minister Adam and copies distributed to high-ranking officials, including the chief executive of the National Bureau of Statistics Laura Ah-time and principal secretary for the department of economic planning Elizabeth Agathine.

 

Laura Pillay

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