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African Successes

Shanta Devarajan's picture

In recent years, a broad swath of African countries has begun to show a remarkable dynamism.  From Mozambique’s impressive growth rate (averaging 8% p.a. for more than a decade) to Kenya’s emergence as a major global supplier of cut flowers, from M-pesa’s mobile phone-based cash transfers to KickStart’s low-cost irrigation technology for small-holder farmers, and from Rwanda’s gorilla tourism to Lagos City’s Bus Rapid Transit system, Africa is seeing a dramatic transformation.  This favorable trend is spurred by, among other things, stronger leadership, better governance, an improving business climate, innovation, market-based solutions, a more involved citizenry, and an increasing reliance on home-grown solutions.  More and more, Africans are driving African development. 

The global economic crisis of 2008-09 threatens to undermine the optimism that Africa can harness this dynamism for long-lasting development.  In light of this, it might be useful to re-visit recent achievements.  The African Successes study aims to do just that.

The study will identify a wide range of development successes (see list), from which around 20 cases will be selected for in-depth study.  The analysis of each successful experience will evaluate the following: (1) the drivers of success—what has worked and why; (2) the sustainability of the successful outcome(s); and (3) the potential for scaling up successful experiences.  African success stories offer valuable insights and practical lessons to other countries in the region. 

I welcome your comments and suggestions for success stories. Click here to see the list of what we have come up with so far.

Useful Reading on Africa: Links of the week for Sept. 4, 2009

Shanta Devarajan's picture

Here is some good reading on Africa:

- As Africa grows richer, there are reasons to be pessimistic about its ability to capitalize on the benefits of a reduction in population growth, says The Economist. One reason is that one in two Africans is a child, which means that traditional ways of caring for children in extended families are breaking down.

Education and Finance in Africa

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At a recent conference that brought together African Finance and Education ministers, the keynote speaker, Tharman Shanmugaratnam, finance minister (and former education minister) of Singapore gave a beautiful speech about Singapore's experience that contained some potentially difficult and controversial messages for Africa.

Pourquoi il faut augmenter l'aide en faveur de l'Afrique

Shanta Devarajan's picture

Dans les pays riches, lorsque le taux de croissance économique diminue de 3 ou 4 points, les individus perdent leur emploi et, probablement, leur maison, mais ils les retrouvent lorsque la reprise économique intervient. Dans les pays pauvres d’Afrique, les enfants sont retirés de l’école — et sont privés de la possibilité de devenir plus tard des adultes productifs. Dans certains cas, les enfants meurent avant d’avoir eu la chance d’aller à l’école. Si l’effondrement actuel de la

Why aid to Africa must increase

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In rich countries, when economic growth declines by three or four percentage points, people lose their jobs and possibly their houses, but they regain them when the economy rebounds. In poor African countries, children get pulled out of school—and miss out on becoming productive adults. In some cases, children die before they have a chance to go to school. If t

Do user fees increase or decrease access to basic services?

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In a recent paper, Alaka Holla and Michael Kremer appear to resolve this controversial issue by surveying findings of a series of randomized evaluations. They conclude that user fees in health and education do reduce access. On page 33 of their 45-page paper, they mention that they have not looked at the impact of user fees on provider incentives. Yet this may be the crux of the debate. Everyone would be in favor of lowering or eliminating us

One childhood

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Rarely do we come across a video that is visually beautiful, intellectually stimulating and emotionally inspiring.  “One childhood” is a documentary about how schools and schoolteachers in Eritrea are part of the campaign to improve children’s health.  Based on the actual findings of two thorough technical evaluations that showed the wide coverage and effectiveness of the Eritrea programs, the film tells the story of how school health is now being delivered in the mountains of Eritrea, in the arid lands of the Red Sea coast and in urban Asmara.  Available on

Responsible aid in a time of crisis

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My friend, former colleague and one-time co-author Bill Easterly, in his inaugural blog post, takes issue with Bob Zoellick’s Op-Eds in the New York Times and the Financial Times  on the need for more aid to poor countries in the wake of the global financial and economic crisis. Bill’s argument is that Bob is calling for more aid without specifyi

The human crisis

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My colleague Justin Lin says that it is important not to let the global financial crisis become “a human crisis.” Nowhere is this truer than in Africa. Although spared the first-round effects of banking failures, Africa is already facing the second-round impacts of declining capital flows, slowing remittances, stagnating foreign aid and falling commodity prices and export revenues. The c

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