In This Review

Can Africa Claim the 21st Century?
Can Africa Claim the 21st Century?
By The World Bank
Oxford University Press, 2000, 292 pp

The World Bank has come a long way since it first launched its campaign of one-size-fits-all, neoliberal orthodoxy for developing economies more than 20 years ago. Growth is still the centerpiece of its prescriptions for reform, but the subtlety and range of its diagnoses and prescriptions have markedly increased, as this landmark prospectus for African development amply illustrates. Added to growth are now many other primary goals, including poverty reduction (defined as halving the number of people living on less than $1 a day by the year 2015) and passing the "ownership" of development decisions from lenders and donors to the policymakers of recipient governments. The implications of these recommendations-for income redistribution, reordered political priorities, improved standards of management, and qualitatively different relationships between rich and poor countries-are spelled out with as much candor as the Bank's current development discourse permits. But the Bank's annoying habit of tiptoeing around its own failings remains. The worst effects of structural adjustment programs are barely mentioned, and only two pages are devoted to the urgent need for debt relief. Nevertheless, this report is essential input to any discussion of African development today.