John Whalley, Aaron Weisbrod, 21 December 2011

In the three years before the global crisis, the average GDP growth in sub-Saharan Africa was around 6%. This period also saw significant Chinese foreign direct investment flowing into the continent. This column uses growth-accounting methods to assess what portion of this growth can be attributed to Chinese FDI. Although for some countries and years the effects were negligible, some countries saw total GDP growth from 2002 to 2009 increase by 0.5 percentage points due to Chinese FDI alone.

Leandro de la Escosura, 19 October 2011

How has Africa performed over the long-run in terms of wellbeing? This column aims to answer this question by improving the UN’s Human Development Index. By looking at data stretching from 1870 to 2007, it argues that human development in Africa is lower than previously thought and that compared to the developed world, Africa stopped catching up in 1980 and began to fall behind.

Thorsten Beck, 16 September 2011

Financial systems can be a powerful tool for economic development across Africa. This column, which summarises a new report on finance in Africa, argues that in order to become such a tool, more competition, an increased focus on the necessary financial services, and more attention to demand-side constraints are needed.

Quamrul Ashraf, Oded Galor, 01 August 2011

The reasons given for the vast divide in standard of living between different parts of the world are many, with some economic historians claiming the roots lie in the colonial period. This column goes back even further to the cradle of humankind in East Africa, suggesting that the genetic diversity of the tribes that dispersed to different parts of the globe determined their success many thousands of years later.

Helmut Reisen, Jean-Philippe Stijns, 12 July 2011

Many discussions of official development assistance express concerns about China's growing investment and involvement in Africa economies. This column, summarizing the 2011 African Economic Outlook report, emphasizes the benefits of emerging economies' increasing presence in Africa, including the opening of African policy space due to Western donors' decline in relative influence.

Denis Drechsler, 23 April 2011

Smallholders are a defining feature of African agriculture. This column argues that they deserve special attention by donors and policymakers. But simply relying on the smallholder business model is unlikely to prepare African agriculture for future challenges. Instead, smallholders should be supported to engage in commercial farming or to move out of the agricultural sector.

Svetlana Andrianova, Panicos Demetriades, David Fielding, Badi H Baltagi, 25 March 2011

International donors provide large amounts of financial capital to Africa in the form of aid and grants, but there are also large financial flows in the opposite direction. Many African banks invest large sums abroad and lend relatively little to local businesses. This column explains that this is because many banks suffer from a shortage of information about the creditworthiness of some of their customers.

Peter Draper, 01 March 2011

Regional integration in Africa is seen as a priority by many of the continent’s policymakers. This column argues against a formal EU-like structure and instead proposes an African model that is responsive to the economic and political reality of the region. It says that the model should be underpinned by a security regime and should prioritise trade and regulatory cooperation.

Giorgia Giovannetti, Marco Sanfilippo, 23 January 2011

Can developing countries afford large social-protection programmes, such as unemployment benefits or medical insurance? Summarising studies from across Africa, this column finds that such programmes are politically, fiscally, and administratively feasible – even for low-income Sub-Saharan African countries – and on a scale and scope previously thought out of reach.

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.

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