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Working Paper 77 - Enhancing Africa’s Trade: From Marginalization to an Export - Led Approach to Development


The socio-economic conditions in African countries deteriorated drastically during the 1980s, a decade that is widely regarded as Africa's lost decade of development opportunities. Available empirical evidence shows that, in sub-Saharan Africa, income per capita declined at an annual rate of 2.4%; Africa's real gross domestic product (GDP) per capita fell by 14.3%, investment contracted by 15%, while exports and imports declined drastically during the period. By 1990, the total external debt of African countries was in excess of US$270 billion, leading to a crushing debt-service burden and further aggravating Africa's development problems.

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