To read this content please select one of the options below:

Structural transformation in sub-Saharan Africa: A comparative analysis of sub-regions performances

Akilou Amadou (Universite de Lome, Lome, Togo)
Tchamsé Aronda (Department of Economics, Université de Kara, Kara, Togo)

African Journal of Economic and Management Studies

ISSN: 2040-0705

Article publication date: 16 March 2020

Issue publication date: 11 June 2020




Recent works on the structural transformation of developing countries usually include only a few countries because of the availability of data. Beyond the resulting lack of representativeness, these works also hit a strong disparity between the labour reallocation patterns of sub-regions. This paper devoted to sub-Saharan Africa, evaluates the performance of sub-Saharan Africa, as a whole, in structural transformation using a more exhaustive database and highlights key disparities that exist between the performances of sub-Saharan African sub-regions.


With a database covering 43 sub-Saharan African countries classified into 4 sub-regions, the paper uses the shift-share method over the period 1991–2012 with sub-periods of 1991–2000 and 2000–2012.


Results show that labour reallocation in sub-Saharan Africa occurred, though weakly, towards more productive activities over the period 1991–2012. Results also show a significant disparity between sub-regions' labour reallocation pattern. While East Africa has experienced a labour reallocation towards more productive activities, West Africa has seen a labour reallocation towards activities experiencing an increase in productivity. Central Africa and Southern Africa experienced a labour reallocation towards less productive activities, and these activities know, moreover, a decrease of productivity.

Practical implications

Findings suggest that any political strategy purposing to coordinate structural transformation in sub-Saharan Africa will result in a failure if countries' peculiarities are not taken into account.


This paper offers a representative picture of sub-Saharan Africa's structural transformation and illustrates disparities between its sub-regions' performances.



We thank the two anonynous reviewers for their helpful comments and suggestions. We are grateful to them.


Amadou, A. and Aronda, T. (2020), "Structural transformation in sub-Saharan Africa: A comparative analysis of sub-regions performances", African Journal of Economic and Management Studies, Vol. 11 No. 2, pp. 233-252.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

Related articles