Economic growth alone will not solve Africa’s woes, By Ed Stoddard

Wednesday, June 1, 2005

Countries like Angola and Equatorial Guinea should be in a headlong rush to affluence — at least that’s how it’s supposed to look on paper.

Sub-Saharan Africa’s second and third biggest oil producers have seen the kind of huge growth and investment that ought to translate into rising living standards for people in both countries, according to conventional wisdom.

Try telling that to the Angolan slum-dweller or the shoeless peasant in Equatorial Guinea, whose prospects for relief continue to be blighted by what experts say is an appalling lack of governance and a chronic dependence on commodities.

Africa’s particular difficulties have been highlighted in a recent University of Cape Town study, which found that economic growth in Africa has not been as effective at reducing poverty as similar growth has been in Asia.

“It is evident that for the same given level of growth, sub-Saharan Africa has been less able to alleviate poverty than East Asia and the Pacific region,” the study said.

Analysts say this highlights the fact that investment and growth are not magic bullets. They require some aftercare.

“You have to be serious about the knock-on affects of investment if you want to have development,” said John Stremlau, the head of the International Relations Department at Johannesburg’s University of the Witwatersrand. “It’s the qualitative not just the quantitative issues.”
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Source: Reuters