The Politics of African Industrial Policy: A Comparative Perspective

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The Politics of African Industrial Policy: A Comparative Perspective
By Lindsay Whitfield, Ole Therkildsen, Lars Buur, and Anne Mette Kjaer
Cambridge University Press, 2015
356 pp.
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This book amounts to an impassioned plea for African industrial policies built around a proactive and interventionist state, which the authors consider to be a prerequisite for successful development in Africa’s low-income economies. The aim would be to create export-oriented manufacturing sectors, like the ones that have lifted economies in East Asia. The book’s best chapters examine industrial policy in Ghana, Mozambique, Tanzania, and Uganda, places where the development of industrial subsectors has often been undermined by some combination of divisions within the elite, weakness in the private sector, and antidevelopment pressures on the government. But these accounts are surprisingly pessimistic about the ability of the four governments to carry out the policies the authors view as necessary. In their conclusion, the authors suggest more hopefully, if rather vaguely, that the right political conditions could emerge over time to enhance the prospects for the development strategies they espouse.

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