States and Power in Africa

Topics: Africa, Economic growth, Economics, Investment / Pages: 7 (1586 words) / Published: May 3rd, 2013
Antony Altbeker is Research and Programme Director at the Centre for Development and Enterprise.

BOOK REvIEW

Africa’s Third Liberation by Greg Mills and Jeffrey Herbst – a further review

Individually and working together, Greg Mills and Jeff Herbst have compiled an impressive body of work on the challenges Africa faces in the 21st century. And, while there are problems with the rigour of the methodologies they prefer to deploy, there is much to be learnt from the resulting texts, which are invariably well-written, informative and accessible.
Africa’s Third Liberation: The new search for prosperity and jobs presents itself as both an analysis of the state of African economies in the early 21st century and as a manifesto for engineering rapid growth over a sustained period of time. Noting that Africa is a complex, diverse set of economies with wide variation in natural and human endowments, historical experiences, institutional architectures and economic potential, Mills and Herbst approach their task by describing in a few pages some of the challenges facing a variety of African states. While each case study is interesting and provocative, precisely how and why each country is selected and why one particular challenge has been elevated above others in describing the current status quo is not always obvious. In relation to South Africa, for example, the focus is on labour market regulation, welfare policies and failed industrial policies. In Kenya, on the other hand, the bulk of the entry relates to the failure to build a tourism industry, and the shoddy state of Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. In Angola, the issue is corruption and inequality, while in the Burundi the focus is on the difficulties entailed in avoiding genocide. No doubt, many of these represent policy failures and all can be described, as Mills and Herbst do, as reflective of an approach to governance more concerned with distributional outcomes than with growth, but crafting a common

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