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Africa's turn?

africas turn

By Edward Miguel
Published by The MIT Press
Website: http://mitpress.mit.edu
2009, 158pp, ISBN 978 0 262 01289 8(Hb), £9.95

According to Miguel, "there is genuine hope today that Africa is on the path to real economic and political progress." In Africa's turn, he attributes this economic progress to democracy taking root, Chinese investment in Africa, and rising commodity prices. But he warns that growth is fragile and conflict, climate change, recession or plummeting commodity prices could derail it quickly. In order to help consolidate this transformation, Miguel calls for concrete steps, including international efforts to reduce Western farm subsidies, the use of foreign aid as an insurance against drought and conflict, and the promotion of agricultural adaptation to climate change.

Responding to this optimism, nine experts emphasise the importance of remittances, mobile phones and the reintegration of South Africa and its economy. Some also question the real progress of democracy, are more sceptical about China's impact, and think that Miguel has underestimated the threat of climate change, population growth, the food price crisis, and lack of agricultural investment.

In the foreword, William Easterly concludes that "even when progress is fragile, the case for hope in Africa is on the most solid of possible foundations: the resourcefulness and creativity of the African people themselves." Africa's turn is an accessible, short book that clearly presents the positive trends but also recognises the fragility of African development.

Date published: September 2009


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