Economic Transformation in Sub-Saharan Africa : The Way Forward book cover
1st Edition

Economic Transformation in Sub-Saharan Africa
The Way Forward

ISBN 9780367498689
Published April 22, 2021 by Routledge
72 Pages

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Book Description

Sub-Saharan Africa is vastly diverse, and the 49 countries of the region range significantly in terms of population, size and economic scale. The region also differs in topography, climate, history, culture, languages and political systems. Given this vast diversity, it is, accordingly, difficult to draw general conclusions about the continent’s economic performance as a whole. Additionally, the lack of current statistics for several countries makes it difficult to make accurate assessments of economic conditions. Nevertheless, some broad comparisons can be made: of the world’s developing areas, sub-Saharan Africa has the worst record in virtually all of the most important social and economic indicators: the region has the lowest gross national income per head, the lowest life expectancy at birth, the lowest youth literacy rate, the highest rate of adult HIV infection and the highest number of children not living past five years of age.

This volume begins by examining recent economic developments and trends. It then looks at the major economic constraints the region has faced in recent years, breaking down those constraints as either ‘external’ (e.g. terms of trade) over which the individual countries have but limited control, or ‘internal’ (e.g. governance and economic policy), over which there is more control. The book concludes by arguing that, despite the notable challenges cited above, sub-Saharan Africa is poised for a transformation, based on closer regional economic co-operation, a growing middle class, increased demand for locally produced goods and services, and a young population.

Table of Contents

About the Author

Foreword by Dr Nicholas Westcott


1 Introduction and Recent Economic Developments

2 External Trends

Trade, Regional Co-operation and South-South Linkages

Aid, Foreign Debt and Investment

3 Internal Trends

Governance, Parastatal Organizations, the Business Environment and

the Informal Sector

Civil Strife

Health, Population and Education

The Natural Environment and Climate Change

. Physical Infrastructure, the Structure of the Economies and Employment

Agriculture, Food Security and the Urban Bias

4 The Way Forward: A Transformation?

Appendix: Countries of Africa South of the Sahara, Current GDP and Population


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Donald L Sparks, PhD, is Emeritus Professor of International Economics at the Citadel in Charleston, SC, USA (where he has been named MBA Professor-of-the-Year three times) and University Lecturer in International Business at the Management Center Innsbruck, Austria.

Dr Sparks has served as a Senior Consulting Associate in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research at the US Department of State. He has been a Fulbright Professor of Economics at the University of Swaziland, now Eswatini, and at the University of Maribor, Slovenia. He was also a Fulbright Senior Specialist at the University of Swaziland. In 2013 he was a Fulbright Specialist in Economics at the African Union Commission’s Department of Economic Affairs in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. In 2019 went to the National University of Laos as a Fulbright Specialist. He was the Department Chairman and Visiting Professor of Economics at the American University in Cairo, Egypt.

Before beginning his academic career, Dr Sparks served as the Regional Economist for Africa in the Office of Economic Analysis at the US Department of State in Washington, DC and as a Staff Assistant to Senator Ernest F. Hollings.

Dr Sparks has published widely, including authoring the `Economic Trends’ chapter in Africa South of the Sahara (Routledge, annual) for each edition for the past 35 years. He has been a consultant for a number of international organizations, including the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, the United Nations Council for Namibia, the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, and the Economist Intelligence Unit.

He received his MA and PhD at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London, UK, and his BA from the George Washington University, USA. Dr Sparks is married to Dr Katherine Saenger and they live in Charleston, South Carolina and Seefeld in Tirol, Austria. They have two grown children and one grandson.