World Bank sheds light on policies behind Africa's development successes

09:27, July 08, 2011      

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The World Bank has shed light on policies behind Africa's development success in a new publication launched on Thursday which gave examples of proven, home-grown solutions that could serve as an inspiration to many.

Titled "Yes Africa Can: Success Stories from a Dynamic Continent," the book gave insight into what worked and why, drawing from 26 cases studies, of which 20 are national in scope, while six involve multiple countries. "The past two decades have been characterized by remarkable progress in Sub-Saharan Africa, so we set out to chart the determinants of those successes," said Shanta Devarajan, World Bank Africa Region chief Economist.

"Our goal here is not only to look beyond the usual headlines that paint a monolithic picture of Africa, but also to make sure that successful experiences are shared and possibly replicated across the continent," Devarajan said in the report which was released in Nairobi.

The publication came as countries across Africa seek a path to greater prosperity after the global financial crisis. The case studies cut across themes, programs and sectors.

They included well-known success stories, such as visionary investments in human capital and economic diversification in Mauritius and Botswana, as well as those that are less famous.

Overall the case studies showed that success is driven by collective action, usually but not always led by the government, to either overcome or avoid the failures of the past. "While the exact circumstances of Africa's previously slow growth vary from country to country, there are generally two main causes: market failures and government policy distortions," said Punam Chuhan-Pole, a lead economist at the World Bank and the book's main editor.

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