Focus on Africa

Focus on Africa

Printer-friendly version
a a
Type Size: Small

In a July 6 commentary, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development noted that despite the economic downturn Africa has been able to narrow the gap in its per capita GDP vis-à-vis the OECD countries.

In a July 1 commentary, International Monetary Fund economist Antoinette Sayeh, a native of Liberia, examined economic reforms in her home country that were implemented in return for debt relief. These reforms have greatly improved the business climate in Liberia, which is now attracting new foreign investment.

On June 29, Mercer released its annual report on the world’s most expensive cities for a foreigner to live. Luanda, Angola, ranked number one, and several other cities in Africa were also among the most expensive, including Ndjamena, Chad; Libreville, Gabon; and Niamey, Niger.

In a June 6 post, University of Chicago economist Gary Becker expressed optimism toward Africa’s growth prospects. He points to declining fertility, the continent’s rich natural resources, and improving attitudes by African leaders toward free markets and diminished attraction for socialism. However, Becker believes that foreign aid is holding back Africa’s transition toward development.

Also on June 6, Judge Richard Posner expressed concern that Africa’s recent positive economic performance may be somewhat artificial because it is based on foreign aid and increases in volatile commodity prices. On the negative side, he says this: “Levels of education and health are very low in sub-Saharan African countries; life expectancy is low and is actually declining; productivity is very low; fertility though declining remains very high; poverty of course is widespread; ethnic conflict (often violent) and political violence are common; corruption is endemic; opportunities for women are meager. These impediments to economic growth will probably change very slowly because they are deeply rooted in African culture.”

Bruce Bartlett’s columns focus on the intersection of politics and economics. The author of seven books, he worked in government for many years and was senior policy analyst in the Reagan White House.