Africa: Time to Rediscover the Economics of Population Density and Development

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By Professor Erik S. Reinert, Tallinn University of Technology, and Dr. Richard Itaman, King’s College, London


Learn more about this timely topic at the upcoming
18th International Economic Forum on Africa


Africa-Industrialisation-Factory.jpgAt the OECD’s origin, we find the 1947 Marshall Plan that re-industrialised a war-torn Europe. At the very core of the Marshall Plan was a profound understanding of the relationship between a nation’s economic structure and its carrying capacity in terms of population density. We argue that it is necessary to rediscover this theoretical understanding now, in the mutual interest of Africa and Europe.

In early 1947, worries grew in Washington that an impoverished Germany – where manufacturing industry had been forbidden under the Morgenthau Plan – would fall an easy prey to the Soviet Union. US President Truman therefore sent former president Herbert Hoover on a fact-finding mission to Germany. One powerful sentence in Hoover’s Report of March 18 that year zeroed in on the basic problem:

‘’There is the illusion that the New Germany left after the annexations can be reduced to a ‘pastoral state’. It cannot be done unless we exterminate or move 25.000.000 out of it’.1 

Hoover understood that the population density of a country is determined by its economic structure: Industrialisation makes it possible to dramatically increase the population carrying capacity of a nation. ‘Exterminate’ was an extremely strong word to use after the horrors of World War II, and everyone understood that there was no place where 25 million Germans could be sent: Re-industrialisation was the only option. Continue reading

From aid to Global Public Investment: an evolution in international co-operation

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By Jonathan Glennie, independent writer and researcher, and Gail Hurley, Policy Specialist on Development Finance at UNDP


This blog is part of an ongoing series evaluating various facets
of
Development in Transition. The 2019 “Perspectives on Global Development” on “Rethinking Development Strategies” will add to this discussion


arrows-changeIt is time to bring aid to an end.

Gradually, maybe, as a few “pockets of poverty” still persist. But this symbol of global collective action that has lasted seven decades will now, inevitably and as planned, be ended.

That is the common view of almost everyone. Whether you are a member of the general public in a “donor” country, still feeling the effects of an economic downturn, or a citizen of a “recipient” country whose economy feels like it is taking off for the first time in living memory. Whether you believe the aid era has been an unqualified failure and should be ended as soon as possible, or that aid has actually been quite successful in promoting development but has now largely “done its job” and can be rolled back as countries reach “middle income” status. Whether you think the hole left behind by aid can be filled by fairer tax collection or by better-targeted private sector finance, both of which are experiencing growth of historic proportions. Even (perhaps especially) if you are part of the aid industry and are well-practised at repeating the mantra that “our job is to do ourselves out of a job”.

Whatever side of the political spectrum you sit on, you are unlikely to disagree with the notion that aid should be decreased as recipient countries’ incomes rise, bringing to an end an experiment intended to kick-start growth in sluggish contexts, but not to last in perpetuity. With only 34 so-called low-income countries left, the only question left to be discussed is how to manage a good “exit strategy”.

Aid is temporary. Success is when aid is no longer necessary.

That’s what we thought, too. That’s what we were taught. But it’s wrong.

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Get the plumbing right: Financial integration should support Africa’s trade integration

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By Amadou Sy, Nonresident Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution and Advisor, African Department, IMF1


Learn more about this timely topic at the upcoming
18th International Economic Forum on Africa


Africa-plumbingAfrican countries trade much more with countries outside the continent than with each other within the continent. According to the United Nations Economic Council for Africa, trade between African countries stands at about 16% of the continent’s total trade, the lowest intra-regional trade globally. Compare this with 19% intra-regional trade in Latin America and 51% in Asia.

Policies to reduce obstacles to intra-African trade have been a priority for African policy makers. After forging ahead with stronger trade integration within existing Regional Economic Communities (RECs), African policy makers took an additional step in 2018 with the Continental Free Trade Agreement (CFTA). Signed now by 44 African countries, the CFTA marks a milestone on the road towards a single continental market for goods and services. Continue reading

Africa’s integration: groundbreaking but not so new

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By Sarah Lawan, Regional Co-operation Advisor, Networks, Partnerships and Gender Division, OECD Development Centre, and Rodrigo Deiana, Junior Policy Analyst, Europe, Middle East and Africa Unit, OECD Development Centre


Learn more about this timely topic at the upcoming
18th International Economic Forum on Africa


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Kwame Nkrumah speaking at the inaugural ceremony of the Organisation of African Unity Conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in 1963

As early as 1963, in the midst of independence movements, Kwame Nkrumah urged, “Africa must unite or perish!” The first president of Ghana pronounced this injunction at the founding meeting of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The post-colonial thirst for “breaking with the old order and indigenising the direction of Africa’s economic development”led to the shaping of the African Economic Community (AEC), a pan-African single market. Africa reclaimed its leadership and ownership with the goal of promoting a self-sustained and self-reliant development trajectory.

2018 witnessed an acceleration of integration efforts with the landmark agreement on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) in Kigali on 21 March. So far, 49 African countries have signed the AfCFTA, which will be the world’s largest free trade area since the WTO’s creation. As the late Calestous Juma put it: “The continent’s regional integration is the most complex and elaborate effort of its kind ever mounted in human history.”2

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Par Jacques Ould Aoudia, Chercheur en économie politique du développement et auteur de « SUD ! Un tout autre regard sur la marche des sociétés du Sud » (Ed. L’Harmattan, 2018)


This blog is part of an ongoing series evaluating various facets
of
Development in Transition. The 2019 “Perspectives on Global Development” on “Rethinking Development Strategies” will add to this discussion


Sud-jacques-AoudiaVu du Nord, un mystère demeure dans les relations entre Nord et Sud de la planète en matière de développement. Les préconisations des pays du Nord à la plupart des gouvernements du Sud sur la démocratie, la bonne gouvernance, les droits de l’homme, le respect de l’état de droit… semblent d’une telle évidence ! Pourquoi les pays du Sud ne suivent-ils pas ces conseils qui leur sont déversés depuis tant d’années pour leur plus grand bien, afin de rejoindre l’état envié des pays du Nord ?

Mais… sommes-nous sûrs d’avoir les bons outils pour comprendre la marche des sociétés du Sud ? Les connaissances sur les sociétés du Sud qui servent de fondements aux politiques de la plupart des bailleurs de l’aide au développement, sont basées sur l’idée que ces sociétés sont des répliques défaillantes et pathologiques de celles du Nord. D’où la nécessité de les aider à réparer les carences, à combler les manques qui les affectent (manques de routes, d’hôpitaux, de démocratie, de droits…) en cherchant à transférer au Sud les techniques et les institutions du Nord. La tentative d’exporter au Sud, pendant les années 2000, la « bonne gouvernance » est emblématique de cette démarche. Or la Chine, qui arbore de très mauvais indicateurs de gouvernance selon les critères du Nord, a réussi à s’arracher au sous-développement, avec d’immenses erreurs (Grand Bond en Avant, Révolution Culturelle), mais aussi les immenses succès qu’on lui connait.

Et si ces sociétés du Sud suivaient leurs logiques propres ? Avec leurs forces, leurs capacités, leurs règles, leurs imaginaires, mais aussi leurs difficultés, leurs craquements devant l’offensive de la modernité que la mondialisation conduite par le Nord répand partout ?

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Security, violence and fiscal policies in Latin America

By Eduardo Salido Cornejo, Public Affairs and Policy Manager Latam, Telefonica    

Police-Latin-America-ViolenceViolence is a central theme in Latin American popular music. Films and paintings portray well-known tragedies affecting Latin American societies. Art imitates life according to the 2017 Latinobarómetro since Argentinians, Mexicans and Panamanians declare public safety their number one problem. It is second on the list of citizen concerns in Colombia and Venezuela, just behind supply issues in Venezuela and the peace process in Colombia. Violence, crime and insecurity are the region’s main issues ahead of unemployment, economic problems or inequality.

According to data from the Brazilian think tank Igarapé Institute, 33% of all homicides in the world take place in the region, which is home to just 8% of the world’s population. Of the 20 countries with the highest homicide rates, 17 are in Latin America, where 43 out of the world’s 50 most violent cities are located. For every 100 000 inhabitants in Latin America, 21 are murdered, while the world average is seven. In the last decade, the homicide rate in Latin America increased 3.7%, while the population grew 1.1%.1

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Why do some countries reduce poverty faster than others?

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By Antonio Savoia, Global Development Institute and Effective States and Inclusive Development Centre, University of Manchester and M Niaz Asadullah, Faculty of Economics and Administration, University of Malaya; Global Development Institute, University of Manchester


This blog is part of an ongoing series evaluating various facets of Development in Transition. The 2019 “Perspectives on Global Development” on “Rethinking Development Strategies” will add to this discussion


poverty-DiT.jpgCan poverty be eradicated is the biggest question for development. Progress in poverty reduction was a central success with the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs): Estimates suggest that as many as one billion people were lifted out of poverty. Since poverty reduction remains important for the more ambitious Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), it seems that the time is right to identify why poverty has been reduced so much and why some countries have seen a greater reduction than others.

Our research1 presents new evidence on what facilitates poverty reduction. We find that in more effective states, or in countries with greater state capacity, income poverty has been reduced at a significantly faster speed, and those countries are much more likely to achieve MDG 1 of halving poverty. Our estimates suggest that countries with the highest state capacity can reduce income poverty at up to twice the speed of countries with the weakest capacity.

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