Africa's Turn?

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Overview

By the end of the twentieth century, sub-Saharan Africa had experienced twenty-five years of economic and political disaster. While "economic miracles" in China and India raised hundreds of millions from extreme poverty, Africa seemed to have been overtaken by violent conflict and mass destitution, and ranked lowest in the world in just about every economic and social indicator. Working in Busia, a small Kenyan border town, economist Edward Miguel began to notice something different starting in 1997: modest but steady economic progress, with new construction projects, flower markets, shops, and ubiquitous cell phones. In Africa's Turn? Miguel tracks a decade of comparably hopeful economic trends throughout sub-Saharan Africa and suggests that we may be seeing a turnaround. He bases his hopes on a range of recent changes: democracy is finally taking root in many countries; China's successes have fueled large-scale investment in
Africa; and rising commodity prices have helped as well. Miguel warns, though, that the growth is fragile. Violence and climate change could derail it quickly, and he argues for specific international assistance when drought and civil strife loom. Responding to Miguel, nine experts gauge his optimism. Some question the progress of democracy in Africa or are more skeptical about
China's constructive impact, while others think that Miguel has underestimated the threats represented by climate change and population growth. But most agree that something new is happening,
and that policy innovations in health, education, agriculture, and government accountability are the key to Africa's future.Contributors Olu Ajakaiye, Ken Banks, Robert Bates, Paul Collier, Rachel
Glennerster, Rosamond Naylor, Smita Singh, David N. Weil, and Jeremy M. Weinstein

The MIT Press

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

This concise volume from the Boston Review series creates a conversation between leading scholars on Africa and development specialists. The opening salvo comes from economist Miguel (coauthor of Economic Gangsters) who, recalling a visit to Kenya and the plethora of cellphones, road improvements and small stores he witnessed, tentatively posits, "It is now possible to wonder whether the terrible decades of war, famine, and despair are finally over." In the ensuing chapters, nine scholars debate this claim, highlighting technological, political and environmental aspects of African development. Olu Ajakaiye, of the African Economic Research Consortium, questions China's ability to improve African trade markets; Paul Collier (The Bottom Billion) questions Miguel's assertion that democratization is responsible for recent economic gains on the continent. While the book focuses on Africa's recent political and economic gains, the authors do not gloss over the violence, corruption and global economic factors that could still derail Africa's economic renewal, but they avoid "politically correct positive and stereotypically negative" prognostications, making this a refreshing take on the fortunes of Africa in the current century and a fascinating compendium of some of the leading theorists of African development. (Apr.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780262012898
  • Publisher: MIT Press
  • Publication date: 3/13/2009
  • Series: Boston Review Books
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 176
  • Sales rank: 1,453,821
  • Product dimensions: 4.50 (w) x 7.00 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Edward Miguel, coauthor with Raymond Fisman of Economic Gangsters: Corruption,
Violence, and the Poverty of Nations,
is Associate Professor of Economics and Director of the Center of Evalulations for Global Action at the University of California, Berkeley.

William Easterly is the author of The Elusive Quest for Growth: Economists'
Adventures and Misadventures in the Tropics
(MIT Press, 2001) and The White Man's
Burden: Why the West's Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good.

He is Professor of Economics at New York University (Joint with Africa House), Codirector of NYU's
Development Research Institute, visiting Fellow at the Brookings Institution, and Nonresident Fellow of the Center for Global Development in Washington, DC.

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