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Onyeiwu focuses on how events of the twenty-first century are shaping key sectors of African economies and societies. He suggests that, compared to East Asia and Latin America, Africa still has a long way to go, despite recent improvements in performance.



Chapter 1. How New Is the “New Africa”?

The media and commentators are abuzz with narratives about how Africa has finally turned a corner from years of lackluster economic performance. They seem to be fascinated by a “new Africa” that has been outperforming much of the rest of the world and threatening the economic hegemony of emerging markets. So impressive has the performance of the region been that financial market analysts have coined a new term for African countries: “frontier markets.” Twenty years ago, the focus of financial institutions and investors was on “emerging markets,” and Africa was discussed only in reference to military coups d’etat, humanitarian aid, wars, violence, and disease (especially HIV/AIDS). Africa has now become a focus of attention not only as a “frontier market,” but also as a region with new business opportunities, a bastion of natural resources, and a “hopeful continent.” According to Penny Pritzker, US commerce secretary, “The time to do business in Africa is no longer five years away. The time to do business is now.”1 Sentiments apart, are we really at a defining moment of African development, or is this yet another false start reminiscent of the 1960s? Is Africa about to take China’s coveted status as the economic powerhouse of the world? These are intriguing questions that cannot be answered without a systematic review of Africa’s recent economic performance.
Steve Onyeiwu

Chapter 2. Renaissance or Mirage: Can Growth in Africa Be Sustained?

The problem with African countries is not so much that they are incapable of achieving economic growth, but rather they often do not sustain growth momentum.1 There is a tendency by African governments and the donor community to focus on growth enhancing factors, while paying little attention to growth-constraining factors. When constraints are severe, a country grows suboptimally, despite the existence of growth-enhancing factors. While estimates of Africa’s future economic performance have been very bullish, few justifications have been offered for those rosy scenarios.2 In reality, predicting the future of African economies is inherently problematic. There are just too many unknowns and “unknowables” in the region. An example of the unknowables is the unexpected outbreak of the Ebola virus in 2014, which the World Bank estimates could cost at least $800 million in the medium term in the three countries most affected by the epidemic—Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone.3 Another manifestation of the uncertainties in African countries is the fact that no one foresaw the current economic boom in the region. Indeed, recent books and articles were predicting gloom and doom in the region.
Steve Onyeiwu

Chapter 3. Growth, Employment, and Poverty

The previous chapters have measured the performance of African economies based on gross domestic product (GDP) and GDP per capita. While these indicators provide panoramic perspectives on the state of an economy, they do not shed much light on the quality of life and living conditions in a country. Thus, it often happens that a country’s GDP and GDP per capita may be growing at impressive rates, without a corresponding improvement in living conditions or quality of life.
Steve Onyeiwu

Chapter 4. Industrial Performance and Prospects of Structural Transformation

Chapters 1 and 2 show that African countries have achieved impressive growth rates of gross domestic product (GDP) and GDP per capita, but concerns remain about the sustainability of the region’s high growth rates. Without structural transformation, growth in Africa will continue to be episodic, noninclusive, and jobless. The goal of this chapter is to discuss issues related to African industrialization, highlighting the region’s industrial development efforts, as well as opportunities and challenges
Steve Onyeiwu

Chapter 5. Regionalism and Industrial Development

The previous chapter shows that industrialization in Africa has not proceeded as expected, despite decades of various policies. In addition to industrial development policies, African countries regard regional integration as an indirect mechanism for promoting industrialization on the continent.1 Within the past four decades, several regional blocs have emerged in Africa, making it one of the continents with the highest number of regional institutions. Almost every country in Africa belongs to one or multiple regional blocs. Given the very small size of several African countries, regional integration is perceived as, perhaps, the best way they could develop the market size needed to achieve scale economies, efficiency, and international competitiveness.2 This chapter considers the potential role of regional integration in the process of industrialization, and uses the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) as a case study.
Steve Onyeiwu

Chapter 6. Innovation, Technology, and Structural Transformation

As discussed in chapters 3 and 4, growth in Africa has neither alleviated poverty as fast as one would expect, nor been accompanied by structural transformation. Structural transformation is impossible without technological change or technological diffusion and absorption. Considering that technological development preceded structural transformation in most countries, this chapter discusses the nature and determinants of technological capability in Africa and explores various options for strengthening the region’s technological capacities.
Steve Onyeiwu

Chapter 7. Information and Communication Technologies

Information and communication technologies (ICTs) could become new growth drivers in Africa and are potentially capable of replacing natural resources as the region’s growth engine. There is no doubt that ICTs are transforming African societies in unprecedented ways, from telemedicine, e-banking, and e-government to education and agriculture. The goal of this chapter is to discuss the diffusion of ICTs in Africa; how they are transforming African economies, as well as the challenges they pose in the region.
Steve Onyeiwu

Chapter 8. Aid, Debt, and Foreign Direct Investment

When African countries achieved political independence in the late 1950s and 1960s, their citizens had high expectations. They had been promised by the nationalists and the emerging political class that the departure of the “colonial masters” would herald a new era of economic prosperity, opportunities, and better future. Prime Minister Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana proclaimed in 1959 that “We shall achieve in a decade what it took others a century … and we shall not rest until we demolish these miserable colonial structures and erect in their place a veritable paradise” (Nkrumah, 1957, quoted in Ayittey, 1999, p.7). Chief Obafemi Awolowo, a leading Nigerian nationalist and frontline politician, said that if elected Nigerian president, he would build a Disney World in Nigeria. The new political leaders were very resolute about what they intended to accomplish: an industrial economy, educated population, and modern society. In their attempts to promote economic development, postindependence African leaders faced the onerous task of mobilizing development finance, without which their aspirations would be a mirage
Steve Onyeiwu

Chapter 9. Gender, Youths, and Sustainable Development

Women and youths are critical agents of change and development in Africa. Together, they constitute the largest proportion of the population of African countries and play important roles in African economies. In 2013, women accounted for 50 percent of the population of Sub-Saharan African (SSA) countries and 48 percent of Middle East and North African (MENA) countries (World Development Indicators Database). In the same year, 20 percent of the region’s population fell between ages 15 and 24, while those under 15 constituted about 41 percent of the population (United Nations Population Division Database). Given the large youth population in Africa, as well as the central role of women in African economies, development policies in the region must explicitly incorporate the role of women and youths. Special attention should be paid to the potential impact of development programs on women and youths. Africa’s economic performance would improve significantly if policymakers can explore ways of using the skills and talents of women and youths more productively. The current use of these skills and talents are not only inefficient, but also threatens the sustainability of growth in the region. This chapter discusses the role of women and youths in Africa and some of the challenges they face.
Steve Onyeiwu

Chapter 10. Closing the Development Gap in Africa

A major conclusion from this book is that the economic performance of African countries has been impressive in the past decade, compared to the 1980s and 1990s. Although it is uncertain whether this performance will be sustained, it is clear that the African economic landscape is changing in unprecedented ways. While regaling in Africa’s growth performance, a crucial question must be posed: given the region’s abundant resources, demographic profile, rich culture, and untapped potentials, can it do better? Trivializing this question runs the risk of making African countries seem complacent about the need to maximize their performance. As a matter of fact, Africa does suffer from a “development gap.” A development gap exists when a country’s economic performance falls short of what can be expected, given its resources and the performance of peers. Many African countries are still far inside their “development frontiers.” Indeed, with the appropriate policy and institutiona
Steve Onyeiwu


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