Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Fragile Growth

Every now and then we post something on the topic of African growth. This time starting with a a new study published in the Journal of African Economies.

How Fragile Is Africa's Recent Growth?
Jorge Saba Arbache* and John Page1

Office of the Chief Economist, Africa Region, The World Bank, The Brookings Institution, Washington, D.C. 20433, USA

* Corresponding author: Jorge Saba Arbache. E-mail: jarbache@worldbank.org.

Has Africa finally reached the path to sustained growth? We find that much of the improvement in economic performance in Africa after 1995 is attributable to a substantial reduction in the frequency and severity of growth declines in all economies and an increase in growth accelerations in mineral-rich economies. We find, however, that growth accelerations have not been generally accompanied by improvements in variables often correlated withlong run growth, such as investment. We also fail to find evidence that substantial policy and governance improvements were associated with the post-1995 accelerations. We conclude that Africa's growth recovery remains fragile.

In an earlier post it was argued that sub-Saharan growth is largely achieved by a depletion of capital. It does not seem that the badly needed investments to maintain or expand the regions' productive base is realising. It was also pointed out earlier that economic growth does not lead to meaningful gains in social development.

The conclusion becomes stronger that the gains of growth in sub-Saharan Africa is dissipating. One of the reasons could be the high volatility of growth in Africa.

The obvious response is to question growth in itself, but to lift millions of people out of poverty growth is needed. Not less growth, but more (inclusive, transparent and environmentally friendly) growth is what Africa needs.

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