Africa's Turn? (Boston Review Books) by Edward Miguel

By Edward Miguel

Edward Miguel, coauthor with Raymond Fisman of financial Gangsters: Corruption, Violence, and the Poverty of countries, is affiliate Professor of Economics and Director of the heart of Evalulations for worldwide motion on the college of California, Berkeley.

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External factors that hurt African economies can set off armed conflict. Large drops in rainfall levels—which lead to economic collapse in agrarian societies—and reductions in key commodity prices have both been linked to the outbreak of civil conflict. If the economic growth of the last seven years continues for another decade or two, African countries will be considerably richer and more diversified and thus at less risk of falling into conflict. But in the meantime, sudden economic shocks linked to weather or commodity prices are a tremendous risk factor.

But not so for Sudan, Chad, or their neighbors. Several leading international climate scientists predict that conditions will get worse in Africa’s Sahel, a parched stretch of earth containing Chad and Niger, as well as parts of Sudan, Mali, Senegal, and their neighbors. The Sahel is home to over one hundred million of the world’s poorest people. Average annual per capita income in the fifteen Sahelian countries is only $346, and the entire region is racked by political instability and warfare.

Edward miguel  The gravest threats, in my view, are the armed conflicts in Congo and Sudan, Africa’s largest countries, bordering a combined total of fifteen other nations. African civil wars also have a history of eclipsing national frontiers: the Liberian civil war led to Sierra Leone’s conflict, the Rwandan genocide provided the spark for Congo’s current mess, and Sudan’s Darfur conflict has already rekindled Chad’s long-simmering civil war. Unless the wars in Congo and Sudan end, they will soon threaten Africa’s new democracies and economic success stories.

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