From the Editor Finance & Development, June 2016, Vol. 53, No. 2
Africa Pausing Strong performance by many African economies over the past two decades led some commentators to coin the term “Africa Rising” to describe the region’s surging economic power.
The term graced the cover of TIME magazine in December 2012, in an issue that chronicled the region’s decades-long journey from economic anemia to impressive vigor. Beginning in the mid-1990s, many—but certainly not all—countries in sub-Saharan Africa energized their economies, achieving in recent years some of the world’s highest growth. Living standards improved as a result, as did health care and other key services, inspiring hope for a bright future.
The past year has been harsh, however, as the region suffered a sharp slowdown, owing to slumping commodity prices and softer global economic conditions. Drought has struck in some countries. And China—now a major trade and business partner in a number of African countries—is slowing as it retools its economy, sparking fears of further weakening. A wave of pessimism is taking hold, prompting some to wonder if the Africa Rising story has come to an end.
This issue of F&D looks at this critical moment for Africa and brings together articles suggesting that many countries are well positioned to ride out this storm despite the toughest conditions in a decade. Our writers express hope that strong growth will resume, albeit with a pause or two along the way.
In his overview, Georgetown University’s Steven Radelet documents changes that leave Africa better positioned to handle this downturn. Marked improvements in governance, the emergence of more adroit leaders and economic managers, and better economic and social policies are a solid foundation for...