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Introduction: Industrial Policy in the African Context

Stiglitz, Joseph E.; Lin, Justin Yifu; Monga, Célestin; Patel, Ebrahim

In his celebrated memoirs, Nelson Mandela recounts the story of having to battle his political adversaries and friends alike to convince them of the necessity of launching an armed movement in their fight against the unbearable brutalities of apartheid. Even his closest allies and supporters resented the idea of resorting to such a controversial strategy, one that raised deep moral questions and required complex implementation capabilities. They opposed his views until he was able to explain that the battle for freedom and prosperity is never an elegant linear path, and that sometimes one has to take unexpected detours and rely on trial-and-error tactics. He finally got his way. And yet the most difficult challenge occurred after his recommendations were eventually validated by his peers, who then asked him to actually implement them. Mandela had no choice but to accept that responsibility. He quickly realized how testing it can be to move from impeccable theoretical reasoning to concrete action on the ground. He writes: “I, who had never been a soldier, who had never fought in battle, who had never fired a gun at an enemy, had been given the task of starting an army. It would be a daunting task for a veteran general, much less a military novice.”

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The Industrial Policy Revolution II: Africa in the 21st Century
Palgrave Macmillan

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April 15, 2019