However unfairly, it is widely believed that, by comparison with other developing regions, Africa's post-independence development record has been one of failure. The evidence shows that on most comparative indicators the region's record has indeed been poor. The chief purpose of this Briefing Paper is to examine possible explanations of these poor results, and of the weak responsiveness of many African economies to economic crisis. It begins by examining the effects of economic policies and then explores the influence of historical, political and structural features. The coverage is confined to sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), excluding South Africa.
The paper concludes that although no simple or single diagnosis is adequate to explain SSA's situation, the influence of historical and political factors emerges with some strength. These suggest that policy reforms without changes in underlying political realities are unlikely to bring fundamental solutions.