Xavier Sala-i-Martin, Maxim Pinkovskiy, 06 December 2010

Sub-Saharan Africa has made little progress in reducing extreme poverty, according to the latest Millennium Development Report. This column presents evidence from 1970 to 2006 to the contrary.

Elias Papaioannou, Stelios Michalopoulos, 15 November 2010

How much influence did colonisation have on Africa’s development? This column examines data from before colonisation up to the modern day and argues that differences in colonial institutions do not explain differences in regional economic performance. Instead, it finds that pre-colonial political centralisation and ethnic class stratification have a significantly positive impact on local development.

Thorvaldur Gylfason, Per Wijkman, 13 November 2010

Since discovering oil in 1990, Equatorial Guinea has experienced massive growth that multiplied its GDP per capita many times over. But its oil wealth has not improved the well being of most of its inhabitants. This column argues that such resources belong to the citizenry under international law, and unelected governments that expropriate natural wealth are violating human rights.

Daniel Lederman, Lixin Colin Xu, 17 October 2010

Foreign direct investment has been an important component in development success stories around the world. This column explores why southern African countries have not been part of this story. Using newly available data it finds that FDI can help development and provide positive spillovers to the local economy. But Africa must have strong fundamentals to attract investment – in particular, greater openness to trade.

Lant Pritchett, Mary Hallward-Driemeier, 23 July 2010

Does government policy make any difference? This column argues that, in many developing countries, firms often make decisions based not on the policy itself, but what it implies in terms of “deals” they may have to make with middle men and corrupt officials. This “policy uncertainty” is a major concern for firms and can help explain some of the puzzles of development.

Simon Evenett, 27 May 2010

With the return to economic growth of many industrialised economies in either late 2009 or the first half of 2010, combined with sustained expansions in the emerging market economies, came the hope that protectionist pressures would ease in the world economy through 2010.…

Fabrizio Coricelli, 01 May 2010

Why have emerging economies weathered the crisis better than advanced countries? This column summarises a session given by Alan Winters, Saul Estrin, Thorsten Beck, and organised by Nauro Campos at the Royal Economic Society annual conference in March 2010. The contributions argue that the crisis may have long-lasting effects on migration, foreign direct investment, and financial development in Africa.

Graziella Bertocchi, 06 April 2010

The causes and implications of state fragility – also known as state failure – are not yet well understood. This column explores the determinants of state fragility in sub-Saharan Africa and finds that institutions – as measured by civil liberties and the number of revolutions – are the main drivers. It says institutions trump economic, geographic, and historical factors.

Caroline Freund, Nadia Rocha, 11 December 2009

It has been shown that poor trade infrastructure is a key reason for Africa's weak exports. This column goes a step further and provides evidence that the delays in inland transport are the most crucial factor restricting Sub-Saharan Africa's trade. Policy makers’ focus on foreign trade policy may therefore be misguided.

Léonce Ndikumana, Tonia Kandiero, 27 November 2009

The trade collapse hit Africa hard, particularly its exporters of natural resources and manufactured goods. As commodity prices have started to recover, so has African trade. This chapter recommends concluding the Doha round of WTO negotiations and investing in Aid for Trade initiatives to make the revival sustainable and support developing economies’ long-term interests.

Giorgia Giovannetti, 05 November 2009

The crisis is putting downward pressure on development assistance. This column, which presents the 2009 European Report on Development, says that now is precisely the time that EU support to fragile states is most crucial, so that such countries can respond to the crisis without abandoning necessary long-term reforms and improvements.

Thorsten Beck, Michael Fuchs, Marilou Uy, 20 July 2009

The global turmoil threatens the progress Sub-Saharan Africa has made in deepening its financial sector in recent years. This column says that it is up to Africa’s financial sector stakeholders – bankers, donors, and policymakers – to guide financial sector reforms in a way that maximises Africa’s opportunities.

William Easterly, 01 June 2009

The debate on aid to Africa continues. This column argues that it is bad governments and institutions that cause poverty, not bad geography. Making sure aid reaches the poor will often mean not giving it to poor governments.

Jeffrey Sachs, 29 May 2009

Aid critics have recently been blaming aid as the source of Africa’s poverty. This column explains how Africa has long been struggling with rural poverty, tropical diseases, illiteracy, and lack of infrastructure and that the right solution is to help address these critical needs through transparent and targeted public and private investments. This includes both more aid and more market financing.

John Humphrey, 28 April 2009

Will developing country exporters suffer trade finance shortages induced by the crisis? This column says that, among 30 export-oriented African firms surveyed, very few face trade finance problems. The resilience of the domestic banking system and existing trading relationships likely limit potential damage, though small firms and new entrants may face difficulties in obtaining trade finance.

Esther Duflo, 20 April 2009

In Africa, where AIDS afflicts 22 million people, most religions promote abstinence and fidelity as the best way to stop the epidemic, especially among adolescents. This column describes two randomised experiments in Kenya showing that a general risk-avoidance message does not change behaviour, whereas a clear message on the relative risks of different sexual partners does.

Peter Draper, 16 March 2009

The gathering economic crisis has induced major economic problems for African countries. This column highlights several key priorities for (South) African representatives to take into the London Summit, including maintaining access to finance, open markets and redoubling African economic reform efforts.

Antonio Ciccone, 02 January 2009

Does poverty cause civil conflict? This column presents the latest evidence, which shows that droughts in Sub-Saharan Africa that reduce income raise the likelihood of violence.

Sebnem Kalemli-Ozcan, Belgi Turan, Chinhui Juhn, 04 October 2008

Some have argued that HIV/AIDS might increase future per capita incomes in Africa by inducing population declines. This column presents new data showing that HIV/AIDS does little to reduce fertility rates amongst non-infected women. The disease, which devastates human capital accumulation, is very likely to lower future per capita incomes in Africa.

Peter Draper, 29 January 2008

Many African economies recently signed economic partnership agreements with the European Union. This commentary analyses the agreements and identifies some significant challenges for future Africa-EU trade relations.

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