Poverty Reduction in Africa
Africa’s growth failure has attracted competing explanations. During the 1980s the World Bank diagnosed the problem as inappropriate economic policies, Berg (1981) offering the first clear statement of this position. Bates (1981) was the first to explain these dysfunctional policy choices in terms of the interests of powerful groups, notably the taxation of export agriculture. During the 1990s the limited response to reform induced a broader search for explanations (Collier and Gunning, 1999, 1999a). Recently three further explanations have gained currency: institutions (Acemoglu et al., 2001), leadership (Jones and Olken, 2005), and geography (Sachs, 2003). This paper emphasizes geography and suggest that the role for institutions, and indeed for leadership, varies according to Africa’s distinctive physical and human geography. The paper considers physical geography, showing how strategies will need to differ radically among Africa’s countries. It also analyzes human geography and the political problems that this has created. It considers three interactions between physical geography and human geography that generate intractable problems. The paper concludes with implications for international strategies.