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Africa’s Growth and Development Strategies: A Critical Review

MA Babatunde


At independence in the late 1950s and early 1960s, there were high
hopes about the growth prospects of the new politically independent
African states. Economic conditions, such as per capita real income,
were comparable to other developing countries like South Korea and
Taiwan. By the mid-1970s, the growth profile of most African countries
had started to decline and by the mid-1980s, it became obvious that the
African continent needed rescue packages which came in the form of
Structural Adjustment Programmes. However, countries like Taiwan and
South Korea had made tremendous progress such that their per capita
real incomes had grown more than tenfold while those of most African
countries had declined considerably compared to the immediate postindependence era. What role did the growth strategies adopted by
African countries play in this tragedy? How do we rethink Africa’s
growth strategy? What were the lessons learned and which way
forward? These and other related issues are what this article sets out to
address. The article identifies three distinct growth phases for the
economies of Africa and analyzes critically the various models
embedded in those phases. Among other things, the article strongly
canvasses for the deepening of regional integration, enhancing
productivity and competitiveness through investment in technology
and education, and the reinventing of African labour markets to promote
productivity and good labour relations.

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eISSN: 0850-3907