World Bank launches book on Africa’s success stories
Titled: “Yes Africa Can: Success Stories from a Dynamic Continent”, the book gives insight into what worked and why, drawing from 26 cases studies, of which 20 are national in scope, while six involved multiple countries.
The case studies cut across themes, programmes and sectors. They include well-known success stories such as visionary investments in human capital and economic diversification in Mauritius and Botswana as well as remarkable record production of cocoa sector and poverty reduction in Ghana.
Mr Shanta Devarajan, World Bank Africa Region Chief Economist, said Africa’s remarkable progress in the past years especially, the rebound after the global financial crisis needed to be disseminated for other countries to benefit.
“Our goal here is not only to look beyond the usual headlines that paint a monolithic picture of Africa, but also to make sure that successful experiences are shared and possibly replicated across the continent,” he said.
Mr Devarajan said there was the need to ensure that the current growth was sustained overtime to give full meaning to the lives of the people.
Overall, the case studies showed that success was driven by collective action, usually but not always led by governments, to either overcome or avoid the failures of the past.
While the exact circumstances of Africa’s previously slow growth varied from country to country, there are generally two main causes: market failures and government policy distortions, said Punam Chuhan-Pole, a Lead Economist at the World Bank and the books main editor.
She said market failures could be corrected by creating incentives for desired outcomes, but government failure was more difficult to address, because it was usually harder to dislodge powerful individuals who were benefiting from the status quo.
“Where political checks and balances are strong, bad policies will not persist,” Mr Devarajan said.
“When you look at the vast array of reforms documented throughout the book, what emerges is vivid proof of the innovation, dynamism, and enduring spirit of the African people,” he added.
The case studies singled out revival of the cocoa industry in Ghana after near collapse in the 1980s, as well as efforts to overcome bad policies in the power sector through independent power producers after a long legacy of publicly financed utilities.
According to the book, Ghana’s success in lifting cocoa production brought out two key lessons of macro-economic management and the appropriate role of the State.
It said there was the specific need for suitable policies and the important contribution of the private sector in improving the efficiency of marketing and in passing greater share of the free on board price of a commodity to farmers.