In the opening section of their working paper, DCID director Indermit Gill and research associate Kenan Karakulah explain their choice to closely examine the continent’s economic development between the years of 1960 to 2016: “This paper takes a hard look at Sub-Saharan Africa’s economic growth between 1960 and 2016. We have not chosen the period accidentally. 1960 was the year in which developing East Asia’s per capita income first exceeded Sub-Saharan Africa’s. 2016 was when, in recorded history, South Asia’s per capita income first exceeded that of Sub-Saharan Africa (henceforth Africa, SSA, or the subcontinent). These numbers translate directly into changes in the global distribution of misery. In 1960, more than half of the world’s abject poverty was in East Asia; today that number is less than 15 percent. Back then, Africa’s share in world poverty was 15 percent; today it’s more than 50 percent. In 1980, there were about 205 million Africans living in extreme poverty. Today, the number is slightly over 410 million. While headcount poverty has doubled in Africa, it has gone down everywhere else.”
Gill and Karakulah look at three “deadly deficits:” education, electricity, and taxes. Read the full paper.
A companion article in the Brooking’s Future Development blog provides a summary of the key findings and puts them into context:
“In 2016, per capita income growth in sub-Saharan Africa turned negative for the first time in the 2000s. Thanks to the recovery of oil prices, the outlook since 2017 has been more optimistic. In its May 2018 Africa Regional Economic Outlook, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) projects that the region’s GDP growth would rise 3.4 percent in 2018, 0.6 percentage points higher than in 2017. Other forecasts are similar: The World Bank projects growth rates of 3.1 percent in 2018 and an average of 3.6 percent in 2019-20. All this looks encouraging. But these growth rates won’t be enough for Africa to reach the Sustainable Development Goals.”