A well-meaning international commission seems to appear every decade or so, each with a master plan for ending Africa's crisis. The report of the so-called Blair commission is longer and more informative than most, with useful discussions of topics such as the importance of governance for economic growth, the negative effects of conflict, HIV/AIDS, and the state of education and health in the region. It also differs from its predecessors in its almost complete inattention to economic policy issues -- no Washington-consensus pieties about the virtues of fiscal probity here! Relentlessly recommendatory, each paragraph urges at least one desirable change for the continent without devoting much attention to how to implement it. The report has caused a stir for calling for a tripling of foreign aid to the region within a decade. It also has been praised for its frankness in acknowledging that deficiencies of internal governance are the single biggest obstacle to economic growth in the region. Unfortunately, it is largely wishful when it comes to how to bring about governance improvements; a large flow of new resources may well only end up comforting African governments.
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