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Poverty

Right analysis, wrong conclusion?

Shanta Devarajan's picture

During my recent seminar in Geneva, where I was also meeting with the Africa Progress Panel, a couple of members of the audience (which consisted of ambassadors, U.N. staff, civil society and academics) said, “I liked your analysis, but not your conclusions.” 

The seminar summarized many of the points I have been making on this blog:

  • For the decade before 2008, Africa was experiencing sustained and widespread economic growth, thanks to aid, debt relief, private capital flows, high primary commodity prices, and improved macroeconomic policies
  • Despite being the least integrated region, Africa was perhaps the worst hit by the global crisis
  • Contrary to some people’s fears, African governments continued to pursue prudent economic policies during the crisis—even though the visible payoffs to these policies (growth and poverty reduction) had suddenly diminished
  • Conclusion:  Economic policy in Africa, which had been improving before the crisis, and either stayed on course or improved during the crisis, has never been better.

    Since my conclusion followed directly from the analysis, I had three possible explanations for the reaction mentioned above:

The three most important challenges and opportunities for the decade ahead

Shanta Devarajan's picture

 1. Jobs

Throughout the developing world, productive-employment-intensive growth remains a challenge. In Africa, it is almost a crisis, with most of the labor force working in low-productivity, informal-sector jobs, and 7-10 million young people entering the labor force every year. That the unemployment rate in South Africa—the continent’s largest economy—has remained around 25 percent is particularly troubling.

Peace and War in South Sudan

Shanta Devarajan's picture

An article in Saturday’s New York Times entitled “Violence Grips South Sudan as Vote Nears” reminded me of a 2008 research paper by Ibrahim Elbadawi, Gary Milante and Constantino Pischadda which models the relationship between Juba and Khartoum as a “game” leading up to the referendum in 2011. 

Climate Change as a Development Opportunity

Shanta Devarajan's picture

There is considerable evidence that Africa is the continent that will be hit the first, most and worst by climate change. 

Agricultural productivity, already among the world’s lowest, could in several African countries fall by 50 percent in 10 years because of higher and more variable temperatures, which in turn could lead to faster desertification, rising sea levels, and more frequent droughts, floods and typhoons. 

Pour que la terre tourne….aussi à Madagascar : Vers un agenda de relance économique

Jacques Morisset's picture

Le déclin économique à Madagascar s’inscrit dans la durée. Depuis 1980, il n’y a que 7 pays en développement qui ont reporté une croissance de leur revenu par habitant moindre que Madagascar. Cette performance traduit des insuffisantes criantes en matière de développement humain et en infrastructure ainsi que des retards technologiques, qui sont les moteurs de la croissance.

Madagascar Economic Policy Update

Noro Andriamihaja's picture

For the first time since the beginning of the crisis, the Government spent massively in October through a combination of debt-service and investment outlays. Over the next few months, the new Government is expected to face three daunting challenges with significant financial implications:

  • Organizing institutions and the electoral process (US$10-20 million for each election and an additional US$5-7 million per month to run the institutions)
  • Managing humanitarian vulnerability to climatic and external shocks (e.g.,US$40 recovery cost in 2007/2008)

Domestic demand, net exports and Africa’s growth

Shanta Devarajan's picture

At the recent Africa Economic Conference, UN under-secretary general and executive secretary of UNECA, Abdoulie Janneh, said "[Africa’s] previous growth, while benefiting from improved macroeconomic management, was largely dependent on commodity exports and resources flows from outside the continent." 

Aid and Corruption

Shanta Devarajan's picture

Many of the objections to my blog post, “Another reason why aid to Africa must increase”  centered around corruption.  “I disagree.  Africa needs to get rid of corruption…” said one commentator, while another said, “Aid to African countries must follow country steps in good governance, democracy, fighting corruption, etc.”

I think we can agree on the following two facts:

 

But even with these two facts, it doesn’t necessarily follow that aid should be cut off from countries with high corruption. 

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