Why Has East Asia Grown Much Faster Than Africa?

Economic growth, Demographic transition, Agriculture

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Many nations in Africa observed an impressive growth rate in the early 1990. These were relatively greater than those obtained in the Asian Countries. However, between the 1960s and 1990s, Africa has witnessed a continuous decline in growth and this has raised concerns about what Africa could learn from the miracle of the East-Asian countries. This decline is general for most if not all African countries but emphasis is place on sub-Saharan Africa than on North Africa because the latter is grouped under a different regional economy in the same class with the Middle East.

A notable example of comparisms between the growth pace in sub-Saharan Africa and East Asia is that between Nigeria and Indonesia. Prior to the 1970, Nigeria was growing faster than Indonesia but this trend changed markedly in the last quarter of the Twentieth century despite the similar experience of oil boom in a predominately agricultural economy (Collier and Gunning, 1999). We further note that the deterioration in Africa was witnessed both in political and economic terms.

This raises further concerns when viewed from the perspective of global economy given that globalization of the world economy is perhaps the most important trend that affects the current environment for economic development. It offers great opportunities for poor countries to accelerate their economic development. But, it also poses new and substantial challenges for economic management. (Aryeetey E. et al 2005) Within this context, there has been a tendency to contrast Africa’s growth "tragedy" over the last three decades with the economic "miracle" of East Asia. There are certainly likely to be lessons from the East Asian experiences that policy-makers in sub-Saharan Africa could adapt to their own situations. Lessons can be learnt both from the era of rapid growth in East Asia as well as from the ongoing economic crisis.

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