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Working Paper - 209 - What is driving the African Growth Miracle


Even if you don’t believe in miracles, it cannot be denied that Africa has come a long way over the past 15 years. As recently as 2000, the front cover of the Economist proclaimed Africa “the hopeless continent” (Economist, 2000). Yet recent evidence suggests that the continent is anything but hopeless. The share of the population living on less than $1.25 a day fell from 58 percent in 2000 to 48 percent in 2010, infant mortality rates declined significantly, and access to education generally improved (Page and Shimeles, 2014). Average growth rates have been positive for the first time in decades and, in some of the fastest growing economies, have exceeded 6 percent per annum; moreover, these growth rates are likely to be underestimated. Young (2012) finds that real consumption in Africa has been growing between 3.4 and 3.7 percent per year or three to four times the 0.9-1.1 percent growth reported using national accounts data; he dubs this an ‘African Growth Miracle’.

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