Accelerated Development in Sub-Saharan Africa: An Agenda for Action

In This Review

Accelerated Development in Sub-Saharan Africa: An Agenda for Action

World Bank, 1981
206 pp.

This World Bank survey of Africa's development crisis presented the most important economic diagnosis and prescription in the continent's history. Often referred to as the Berg Report after its principal drafter, the American economist Elliot Berg, this was the controversial unveiling of the bank's recommendations for "structural adjustment," the implementation of which subsequently became a precondition for bank loans. Largely ignoring external factors blighting African development, such as declining terms of trade for primary products and the impact of failed past aid policies, including the bank's own, the report identified policy errors by African governments as the source of malaise, and called for a stiff dose of reform: the adjustment of overvalued exchange rates, greater emphasis on agricultural exports and increased prices for agricultural producers, reduction of subsidies for urban consumers, downsizing of state bureaucracies, privatization of inefficient parastatals, and improved public sector management. Some African governments that owed their political survival to the old policies collapsed under the effects of bank-imposed reform. Today most countries still await convincing proof that the bank's prescriptions will eventually accelerate growth.

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