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Department ofEconomics


Economies and Development

Michael Kevane

in Peter J. Schraeder (ed.) Understanding Contemporary Africa (6th edition) Lynne Rienner Publishers 2020.



This chapter summarizes the consensus of social science research on the many factors that explain the mixed and uneven development trajectory of most African countries. The chapter draws attention to controversies and lacunae in knowledge. The first section provides a narrative description of an African economy as experienced by a typical person. The second section presents the aggregate statistics for the present state of development in Africa. Section three addresses prospects for accelerating development in African countries, focusing on the policy and institutional environment that promotes entrepreneurialism and investor confidence, prospects for productivity improvements through technology adoption, the extension of financial systems, and the provision of infrastructure, especially transport and power. A final section explores some of the threats to accelerated development, and steps that might be taken to prevent development disasters.

LSB Research, ECON, Michael Kevane, 2020