A Blighted Harvest: The World Bank and African Agriculture in the 1980s
By Peter Gibbon, Kjell J. Havnevik and Kenneth Hermele
Africa World Press, 1993, 168 pp.
The Debt Crisis in Africa
By E. Wayne Nafziger
Johns Hopkins University Press, 1993, 287 pp.
These two solidly researched, accessible books join the growing literature on the political economy of African debt. Nafziger, an economist from Kansas State University, offers the more comprehensive treatment, reviewing the origins of Africa's crisis in the 1970s, drawing comparisons with Latin America, and surveying the range of debt relief proposals formulated by OECD governments in the 1980s. A Blighted Harvest, authored by a team sponsored by the Scandinavian Institute of African Studies, examines the application of World Bank structural adjustment programs in the agricultural sector only, focusing on countries that have received substantial Nordic aid.
Both books fault African governments for permitting a disproportionate share of the heavy costs of structural adjustment to be passed to the poor, but both save their strongest criticism for the cartel of Western lender institutions whose ill-conceived (the Scandinavians say "criminal") policies are held ultimately responsible for Africa's worsening economic woes. Neither book suggests any new solutions, although Nafziger presents a rundown of the standard old ones, including default, which he suggests may be Africa's only choice in the end.