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Towards inequality diagnostic tools - Visuel -
Inequality has emerged as the social challenge of the decade. Empirically, a series of influential studies of the available international evidence suggest that global inequality has been falling in the last quarter century. However, this encouraging trend appears to have been driven entirely by convergence in GDP per capita across nations and the consequent decline in inequality between countries, with the average inequality within countries remaining constant until the about 2000 but increasing thereafter.

The picture within Africa is more complex, and often obscured by problems with unreliable and non-comparable data, both over time and across countries. The most careful African data analysis suggests that, measured in monetary terms, African inequality is very high. It is the most unequal continent. There is, however, huge variation in the magnitude, changes and texture of this inequality across the continent.

This implies a double danger. Africa needs to ensure that it is included in the international measurements. At least as importantly, the continent must ensure that the specifics of its societies are considered in the analysis both of the factors causing inequality and the consequences of inequality. It is this analysis that is the basis for policy interventions and civil society action to turn the tide. It is disastrous, therefore, to fail to measure and understand the realities of each context. The Centre of Excellence will directly address both the analytic and measurement challenges through the development of diagnostic tools and capacity building.


This project is part of the first phase of the Research Facility on Inequalities, coordinated by AFD and funded by the European Commission's Directorate-General for International Partnerships over the 2017-2020 period. The first phase of the Facility has led to the conduct of 22 research projects and the publication of around 100 research papers and policy briefs.



The main objective of this research project will be to advance the analysis of African inequality and the policy discussion on strategies to overcome inequality in Africa through a series of country-level engagements. The project is given structure and impetus through the development of a diagnostic tool that will be implemented in a limited number of pilot countries. This diagnostic tool will consist of a thorough analysis of the various inequalities in a given country which will help the government to identify the priorities and policy options in order to reduce them.

In order to build the diagnostic tool, a handbook will be developed that will set up a common base which will allow country comparisons. And, as to extend its use and improve accountability, it will be backed with a central data hub and strong data centres in each partner country that will allow and facilitate further inequality analysis.


The diagnostic tool will be based on three pillars :

  • a conceptual and empirical review of the studies on inequality in Africa, allowing us to have a baseline for the development of future projects, as well as a better comprehension of the specificities of inequalities in Africa and of their measurement;
  • a handbook which will contain the framework proposed for the country inequality diagnostics, the methodological issues around the measurement of inequalities and their analysis and  the important issues linked to policies;
  • and the support to the implementation of the country diagnostic, in collaboration with the pilot countries’ local research teams and the creation of the data hub.

In practical terms, the country diagnostic will take the form of a report which overviews the inequality within a country, across all relevant dimensions, for a given time and over time. Alongside this, it summarises the main policies passed or in place expected to have an impact on inequalities. Each country will use their diagnostic as a platform for:

  • policy engagements on strategies to overcome inequality,
  • the stimulation of national dialogue and a national research focus on inequality,
  • and leading the national discussion through further, high impact research papers from the country node on inequality.

-The diagnostic of inequality in South Africa, carried out by Statistics South Africa in partnership with the Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit (SALDRU), the African Centre of Excellence for Inequalities Research (ACEIR) in the EU-AFD Facility framework is available online: Inequality trends in South Africa: a multidimensional diagnosis of inequality.

This report was presented at a workshop involving all actors working to reduce inequality, held on 11 February 2020 in Philippi, Cape Town, on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the release of Nelson Mandela. You will find here the synthesis of the workshop, including the presentations, discussions and debates held this day: Stakeholder engagement on inequality trends in South Africa.

-The diagnostic of inequality in Ghana, conducted by ISSER and the University of Ghana in partnership with the African Centre of Excellence for Inequalities Research (ACEIR) in the EU-AFD Facility framework is available online: Inequality Diagnostics for Ghana 

In order to insure a certain degree of comparability among all the country studies and to support researchers and statisticians in conducting inequality diagnostics, a Handbook was developed by ACEIR.

- The diagnostic of inequality in Kenya, conducted by University of Nairobi in partnership with the African Centre of Excellence for Inequalities Research (ACEIR) in the EU-AFD Facility framework is available online: Inequality Diagnostics for Kenya

    You may find the research paper here:

    - The diagnostic of inequality in Mozambique, conducted by Instituto de estudos socais e economicos (IESE) and the University of Cape Town in partnership with the African Centre of Excellence for Inequalities Research (ACEIR) in the EU-AFD Facility framework will be soon available. 

    Project start date
    Project end date
    1 year and 5 months
    Duration of the program
    Ghana, Côte d'Ivoire, Kenya, South Africa, Mozambique
    200 000
    Financing amount

    The content of this project information sheet falls under the sole responsibility of the AFD and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the European Union.