Ayittey has written another acerbic critique of contemporary African political economy, following Africa Betrayed (1992) and Africa in Chaos (1998). Unlike the overwhelming majority of African intellectuals, Ayittey is an economic liberal who calls for less government and more entrepreneurship. He believes African economies have been held back by the corruption and poor policies of their governments, and he provides much evidence of ill-conceived government intervention that probably impoverished African populations over the years. He yearns for an Africa actively competing in the global economy. The book is too long, in part because Ayittey cannot seem to resist providing five anecdotes of egregious incompetence or corruption where one or two would have sufficed. And like many pamphleteers, he ignores evidence that does not conform to his arguments. Still, the book communicates a wealth of useful information on African economies and decision-making, and Ayittey's righteous anger at African governments is often compelling, hyperbole notwithstanding.
Get the best of Foreign Affairs' book reviews delivered to you.