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Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2009) Page, JohnAfter stagnating for much of its postcolonial history, economic performance in Sub?Saharan Africa has markedly improved. Since 1995, average economic growth has been close to 5 percent per year. Has Africa finally turned the corner? This paper analyzes growth accelerations and decelerations-that is, country level deviations from long?run trend growth. Seen from this perspective, Africa's record of slow and volatile growth reflects a pattern of offsetting accelerations and declines, and much of the improvement in economic performance in Africa post 1995 turns out to be due to a substantial reduction in the frequency and severity of growth decelerations. The fall in economic declines since 1995 is largely due to better macroeconomic policies, but changes in such 'growth determinants' as investment, export diversification, and productivity have not accompanied the growth boom. Lack of change in these variables and the significant role played by natural resources in sparking growth accelerations suggest that Africa's growth recovery was fragile, even before the recent global economic crisis. The paper concludes by setting out four elements of a strategy that can help move Africa from fewer mistakes to sustained growth: managing natural resources better, pushing nontraditional exports, building the African private sector, and creating new skills.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2008) Faulkner, David ; Loewald, ChristopherSouth Africa's growth experience provides an example of how contrasting growth trends long-term decline followed by improved growth pivot around political change, in this case a transition to democracy. In the decade prior to 1994, South Africa experienced the worst period of economic growth since the end of the Second World War, with growth variable and declining. The proximate causes of slowing growth were trade and financial sanctions in opposition to the Apartheid government, political instability and macroeconomic policy decisions that resulted in higher inflation, increased uncertainty, and declining investment. Democracy has proved critical for, among other factors, creating the possibility of a peaceful and more stable future and reversing investor sentiment at a basic level. Political and economic leadership have been essential for improving the country's growth performance because of the effect on policy formulation, institutional development, regulatory design, and economic vision. Prudent fiscal policy and sound macroeconomic management have been critical factors in creating an environment conducive to growth by stabilizing economic conditions, lowering the user cost of capital, and putting downward pressure on the real exchange rate. This case study provides some insight into a more general perspective on political and economic transition and some of the key macro- and microeconomic policy shifts that need to occur to realize a more rapid and sustained growth path.