Africa's Economic Progress

12 September 2013

The New York Times

A Sept. 3 column by Joe Nocera tries to contrast my views with those of Jeffrey D. Sachs ("Fighting Poverty, and Critics"), but I take issue with Mr. Nocera's characterization of the conclusions of my book "Emerging Africa."

I describe five forces central to Africa's turnaround. Mr. Nocera mentions three but doesn't mention the most relevant one: debt relief and more effective foreign assistance.

My views and Mr. Sachs's are broadly similar: local actions, courageous leadership and smart policies have been the central drivers of Africa's progress, with foreign assistance playing a supporting role. Most academic research supports that general view.

It is rather unfair to paint Mr. Sachs's efforts in Africa as a failure. He has been among the strongest and most articulate advocates for debt relief, the fights against H.I.V.-AIDS and malaria, and several other highly successful efforts.

Development is hard. Businesses, governments, aid agencies and small farmers all sometim es succeed and too often fail. Those involved must constantly strive, experiment and learn.

Fortunately, today there are far more successes than failures. It is too early to tell whether the Millennium Villages Project will ultimately succeed, and important to recognize the other successes that are part of the larger effort to fight poverty.

Original article by by Steven Radelet. The writer is a professor in the practice of development at Georgetown.

Category: General

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