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Economic Growth and Governance in Africa: Are They Compatible?

Enterprise and Economic Development in Africa

ISBN: 978-1-80071-323-9, eISBN: 978-1-80071-322-2

Publication date: 11 June 2021


The chapter examines why growth in African economies between 1996 and 2016 appears not to have led to improvements in the key governance indicators (GIs) of government effectiveness, rule of law and control of corruption. Comparative data from other continents are presented to provide a contextual perspective for the case of Africa. The central research question is why has the continent been witnessing economic growth in real terms but simultaneously regressive movements in these three key indicators of governance which are central to the concept of ‘development’ itself? The data span the period from 1996 to 2016 inclusive using the WGI database of the World Bank for 171 countries including 43 African countries. The country sample is selected to ensure the same countries are included in the WGI database across all years of the sample period. The data are analysed numerically in terms of relative and absolute deviations and graphically. The results demonstrate a clear trend in several continents of worsening GIs while real economic growth has been positive. However, the distribution of this negative trend is highly skewed towards the African countries in the sample. The findings suggest that, despite real growth, economic and social development (in the widest sense) is actually regressing in many countries. We offer alternative theoretical explanations for this (apparent) contradiction and a number of possible policy solutions. The data are from the WGI database and all efforts have been taken to ensure its reliability in this analysis. Although there are small differences in how indicators have been measured, these do not seriously affect the underlying trends found in the data. A new approach to establishing value for money in public sector organisations is suggested which at the same time will help strengthen public accountability, transparency and efficiency in the delivery of the government services to the general public. The chapter may provide a new or a different perspective on how societies should perceive government and its various agencies in order to raise accountability. The chapter is conceived from a very old debate: growth versus development but argues that the latter is almost impossible in the absence of good governance and provides analytical evidence as the basis for this conclusion.



Elish, E. and Adams, J. (2021), "Economic Growth and Governance in Africa: Are They Compatible?", Nziku, D.M. and Struthers, J.J. (Ed.) Enterprise and Economic Development in Africa, Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 229-242.



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