Not so long ago, Africa was being described as the ‘Hopeless Continent’. Recently, though, talk has turned to ‘Africa Rising’, with enthusiastic voices exclaiming the potential for economic growth across many of its countries. What, then, is the truth behind Africa’s growth, or lack of it?
In his provocative new book, leading commentator of Africa’s economics and development Morten Jerven reframes the debate, challenging mainstream accounts of African economic history. Whilst for the past two decades experts have focused on explaining why there has been a ‘chronic failure of growth’ in Africa, Jerven shows that most African economies have been growing at a rapid pace since the mid-90s. In addition, African economies grew rapidly in the 50s, the 1960s, and even into the 1970s. Thus, African states were dismissed as incapable of development based largely on observations made during the 1980s and early 1990s. The result has been misguided analysis, and few practical lessons learned.
Respondent: Tunde Zack-Williams (University of Central Lancashire)
Chaired by: Deborah Johnston (SOAS)