In This Review

Challenges of African Growth: Opportunities, Constraints, and Strategic Directions
Challenges of African Growth: Opportunities, Constraints, and Strategic Directions
By Benno Ndulu
World Bank, 2007, 205 pp.

A team led by the prominent African economist Ndulu authored this useful and up-to-date appraisal of the economic situation in Africa and the major constraints on economic growth there. This genre of policy literature invariably has a strong bias toward hope: whatever the past failures, the discourse goes, things are better now, and a real breakthrough is within reach if the right strategy is followed. In this case, the report argues that the policy and governance deficiencies of today are much less flagrant than those of the past but that the constraints preventing growth are still significant. These include inadequately diversified economies, political instability, poor infrastructure and governance, rapid demographic growth, and an underdeveloped financial sector. The report concludes by advancing a strategy to increase growth. Some readers may protest that the agenda is hardly novel, but the report's emphasis on improving the investment climate, in contrast to its virtual neglect of the social sector and its perfunctory discussion of governance issues, suggests a doctrinal shift inside the World Bank's Africa departments that could be important if it leads to a commensurate shift in lending focus. As always with World Bank publications, the report cites much interesting economic research from its own staff.