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Economic inflexibility in Africa: Evidence and causes

Working papers

This paper is a contribution to a project directed by the author on the 'Nature, significance and determinants of the flexibility of national economies'.

The paper concludes that whilst it is dangerous to offer continent-wide generalisations (and sub-Saharan Africa by no means offers a uniformly adverse situation), the evidence marshalled here indicates:

  • a generally low degree of economic flexibility;
  • a slow pace of modernising structural change;
  • a rather adverse record with 'structural adjustment';
  • a poor revealed ability to take advantage of trading opportunities;
  • a similarly laggard response to technological advances;
  • low supply elasticity in agriculture.

The paper also demonstrates that these factors interact with each other, so that in combination they have a powerful sclerotic effect.

Tonv Killick