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f_0018638_15962 - The African Growth and Opportunity Act...

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The Whitehead Journal of Diplomacy and International Relations The African Growth and Opportunity Act and Economic Growth in Sub-Saharan Africa by James S. Guseh and Emmanuel O. Oritsejafor S ince most sub-Saharan African countries gained independence from colonial rule in the 1960s and 1970s, achieving economic growth and development has been a central objective of governments in the region, as well as international donor organizations. The Organization of African Unity—now the African Union—was established (among other initiatives) to promote development at the economic, social, and cultural levels, and to foster the integration of African economies. 1 In order to address specific regional concerns, organizations such as the Economic Community of West African States, East African Community, and Southern African Development Community, were also established. At the same time, several international organizations, including the United Nations, African Development Bank, World Bank, and International Monetary Fund, expressed their commitment to improving economic conditions in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) through billions of dollars worth of funding and various forms of policy consultation. In addition to the support from these international organizations, governments of many developed countries have also provided vast amounts of development assistance. Despite the numerous institutions and substantial resources devoted to the development of SSA, success has been scattered and slow. Figure 1 presents economic growth trends in the region from 1960–2002. The average growth rate of per capita income was 2.6 percent in the 1960s, but declined to a modest rate of 0.8 percent in the 1970s. Growth was then negative for the next 15 years, until the mid- 1990s. Then there was a modest recovery, reaching 3.1 percent around 2004. These figures highlight the sluggish long-term economic growth that has plagued the region and resulted in poverty, unemployment, and income inequality—issues that are central to development. In this region, the incidence of poverty and the rate of unemployment are among the highest in the world. 2 Although income inequality declined substantially between the 1960s and 1980s, it is still high relative to other regions, such as Eastern Europe, South Asia, East Asia, the Pacific, the Middle East and North Africa. 3 Only in Latin America did income inequality surpass that of SSA. James S. Guseh is a professor in the Department of Public Administration at North Carolina Central University. Emmanuel O. Oritsejafor is an associate professor in the Department of Political Science at North Carolina Central University. 123
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GUSEH AND ORITSEJAFOR The Whitehead Journal of Diplomacy and International Relations F IGURE 1: A VERAGE R EAL P ER C APITA GDP G ROWTH R ATE IN A FRICA (1960-2002) Problems in realizing long-term economic growth and development in the region can be attributed to the general paucity of investment resources, 4 the debt crisis, lack of political stability, 5 weak governance, and the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
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