Good Growth and Governance for Africa: Rethinking Development Strategies: Introduction and Overview

Noman, Akbar; Stiglitz, Joseph E.

When the countries of Sub-Saharan Africa achieved independence in rapid succession starting with Ghana in 1957, there were high hopes for the region. A group of outstanding leaders would inspire to bring a new era to a sub-continent long suffering from colonial exploitation and developmental neglect. What has happened since has been disappointing: whilst standard economic theory predicts a convergence in economic outcomes, with those countries with lower per capita incomes growing faster than those with higher, there has been divergence, particularly for Sub-Saharan Africa, with incomes per capita in the region stagnating over 1960-2000 (as the gains of the first two decades of that period were wiped out in the next two) and poverty increased when in the rest of the world per capita incomes more than doubled and in some of the most successful developing countries increased four-fold or more (see the figures in Section II). Only the few years before the global economic crisis of 2008 brought respite to this picture of gloom for Africa, as annual growth soared to some 6% during 2006 and 2007, with only the East and South Asian regions exceeding it by a significant margin, but even this period of optimism appears fragile and built on soaring resource prices as much as anything else. This naturally raises the question: Why has the economic growth performance of Sub- Saharan Africa (hereinafter Africa) been so disappointing and more to the point, what are the policy options for reversing that trend? What are the possibilities and policies for Africa to achieve sustained, rapid economic growth and associated structural transformations and begin to catch-up?

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Initiative for Policy Dialogue
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February 1, 2010


The opinions expressed in these papers represent those of the author(s) and not The Initiative for Policy Dialogue. These papers are unpublished and have not been peer reviewed. Please do not cite without explicit permission from the author(s). Published as Foreword to "Privatization: Successes and Failures," ed. GĂ©rard Roland (New York: Columbia University Press, 2008).