“Africa’s Rise: Interrupted?” Steven Radelet, IMF / FINANCE & DEVELOPMENT, June 2016

“The region’s future depends on much more than fluctuations in commodity prices. (...) At a deeper level, the gains of the past two decades had their roots in more fundamental factors: improved governance and a new generation of skilled leaders in Government and business, likely to persist into the future.”

Is Africa’s surge of progress over? During the past two decades, many countries changed course and achieved significant gains in income, reductions in poverty, and improvements in health and education. But the recent optimism seems to have swiftly given way to a wave of pessimism. Commodity prices have dropped, the world economy has slowed, and economic growth has stalled in several sub-Saharan African countries. If high commodity prices alone drove recent advances, the prospects for further gains seem dim. But the reality is more complex, and the outlook --especially over the long run-- is more varied. Many countries are confronting difficult tests. But for others --oil importers with more diversified export earnings-- growth remains high. Managing the global slowdown requires: strong leadership, forceful action and difficult choices. Growth is likely to slow in the next few years. But in the long run, the outlook for progress is still solid for many countries. 1) There was a marked improvement in governance: electoral democracies have jumped from four in 1990 to 23 today (Freedom House). 2) There are more skilled leaders and policymakers: a new generation of managers, technicians and entrepreneurs is rising. 3) Economic and social policies have improved: against all odds, many countries have experienced a remarkable transformation. 4) During the past two decades world economic conditions were favorable. The global slowdown is a challenge not easily overcome. Policymakers may not generate rapid growth right away, but they can keep the slowdown in check and strengthen the foundation for lasting progress.


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“Africa’s Rise: Interrupted?” Steven Radelet, IMF / FINANCE & DEVELOPMENT, June 2016


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