In This Review

Our Continent, Our Future: African Perspectives on Structural Adjustment
Our Continent, Our Future: African Perspectives on Structural Adjustment
By Thandika Mkandawire and Charles C. Soludo
Africa World Press, 1999, 176 pp

This balanced and wide-ranging review of Africa's economic crisis draws lessons from two decades of failed World Bank-imposed structural adjustment programs (saps). The authors call for Africans to reclaim leadership over their own development, arguing that in their determination to get governments "out of the way," saps neglected the essential government function of managing development. Instead, foreign "experts" moved in, institutional capacity declined, and civil services collapsed. In addition, saps grossly underestimated the complexity of agricultural and industrial development under African conditions and treated deepening poverty as a secondary issue. Today, putting African economic policymaking back on track and fostering democratic political reform are huge tasks that Africans must tackle. But their wealth of experience is now a resource that could make progress possible, provided it is coupled with the cancellation of foreign debts. A valuable primer on current development debates.