Conference Highlight: The Economic Development of Africa

“In the 1960s, the studies of development scholars like Gunnar Myrdal were predicting that Asia, not Africa, would be the problem. Africa had a lot of resources…The problem was going to be Asia with huge populations, very dense economies and very few development prospects. How was that prediction so wrong?” asked Alan Gelb, the World Bank's Director of Development Policy during the CASE and CASE Ukraine Winds of Change Conference in March. Gelb outlined the key economic challenges facing sub-Saharan Africa and examined the region's record since the 1960s.

He points out that Africa has been part of the globalized world community for a long time, but that this membership takes a most undesirable form. The development growth in the region has been episodic, with spurts of growth, followed by collapses, with the average growth being 1/5 of that in other developing regions.

Gelb addressed changes in the region since 1990, including the emergence of democracy, the liberalization of states, and the results of the first phase of reforms that could be seen from 1994/1995 onward. The final part of the talk outlined a scenario for improving the competitiveness of the region, while also touching on some of the political economy issues of the region's continuing evolution.

Excerpts from Alan Gelb’s speech will be soon available for online viewing on the Winds of Change webpage.

To see pictures from this and other sessions, please see the Conference Photo Gallery.