Interrogating the Political Economy of Africa Rising: Who Are the “African Tigers”?



Sub-Saharan Africa has for the most part been the least developed region of the world. The region is often easily dismissed as backward and unable to channel its potentials to actual progress. At the wake of the new millennium, the narrative changed to a hopeful one, with an optimistic standpoint on the economic prospects based on the assumption that the region is on a “take-off” verge. As a result of the change in narrative, there has been a gradual renewed interest by investors, businesses and multinational companies which had hitherto withdrawn or completely stayed away from the region. This recent development, therefore, necessitates a closer examination of the changing narrative and the nature of the economic growth experienced by the region. This chapter traces the economic growth trajectory of the region since the independence era, interrogates the inclusiveness and productivity, as well as tries to identify the dynamics of the drivers of the changing narrative.


  1. Ajala, O. 2018. Formation of Insurgent Groups: MEND and Boko Haram in Nigeria. Small Wars & Insurgencies 29 (1): 112–130.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bhorat H., and F. Tarp. 2016. The Pursuit of Long-Run Economic Growth in Africa: An Overview of Key Challenges. In Africa’s Lions, 1–36. Brookings Institution Press.Google Scholar
  3. Bravo-Ortega, Claudio, and Jose de Gregorio. 2007. The Relative Richness of the Poor. Natural Resources, Human Capital and Economic Growth. In Natural Resources: Neither Curse Nor Destiny, ed. D. Lederman and W.F. Maloney. Palo Alto: Stanford University Press and Washington, DC: World Bank.Google Scholar
  4. Brooks, D. 2000. Hope for the ‘Hopeless Continent’: Mercenaries. Traders: Journal for the Southern African Region 3: 1–9.Google Scholar
  5. Bush, R. 2018. Africa: A Political Economy of Continued Crisis. Afrika Focus 31 (2): 23–46.Google Scholar
  6. Cadot, O., J. de Melo, P. Plane, L. Wagner, and M.T. Woldemichael. 2016. Industrialisation et transformation structurelle: l’Afriquesubsahariennepeut-elle se développer sans usines? Revue d’economie du developpement 24 (2): 19–49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Caselli, F., and T. Cunningham. 2009. Leader Behaviour and the Natural Resource Curse. Oxford Economic Papers 61 (4): 628–650.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Chandy, L. 2011. Ten Years of Fragile States: What Have We Learned? Global Views Policy Paper 2011-12, The Brookings Institution, Washington, DC. Available at
  9. Chandy, L., and G. Gertz. 2011. Poverty in Numbers: The Changing State of Global Poverty from 2005 to 2015 (pp. 8–10). Washington, DC: Brookings Institution.Google Scholar
  10. Chen. S., and M. Ravallion. 2008. The Developing World Is Poorer Than We Thought, but No Less Successful in the Fight Against Poverty. Policy Research Working Paper 4703, World Bank, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  11. Cilliers, J., and T. Sisk. 2013. Assessing Long-Term State Fragility in Africa: Prospects for 26 “More Fragile” Countries. ISS Monograph No. 188. Pretoria. Available at
  12. Collier, P., and J.W. Gunning. 1999. Why Has Africa Grown Slowly? Journal of Economic Perspectives 13 (3): 3–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. De Vries, G., M. Timmer, and K. De Vries. 2015. Structural Transformation in Africa: Static Gains, Dynamic Losses. The Journal of Development Studies 51 (6): 674–688.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. The Economist. 2000. Hopeless Africa. May 11.Google Scholar
  15. The Economist. 2011. Africa’s Hopeful Economies: The Sun Shines Bright. December.Google Scholar
  16. The Economist. 2013. Africa Rising: A Hopeful Continent. March 3.Google Scholar
  17. Hausmann R., D. Rodrik, and A. Velasco. 2005. Growth Diagnostics. John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA.Google Scholar
  18. Howard, P.N., and M.M. Hussain. 2013. Democracy’s Fourth Wave? Digital Media and the Arab Spring. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Jalilian, H., C. Kirkpatrick, and D. Parker. 2007. Impact of Regulation on Economic Growth in Developing Countries: A Cross-Country Analysis. World Development 35 (1): 87–103.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Karl, T.L. 2007. Ensuring Fairness: The Case for a Transparent Fiscal Contract. In Escaping the Resource Curse, ed. M. Humphreys, J. Sachs, and J. Stiglitz, 256–285. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  21. Kolstad, I., and T. Soreide. 2009. Corruption in Natural Resource Management—Implications for Policymakers. Resources Policy 34 (4): 214–226.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Laniran, T.J. 2017. Fiscal Regimes in Resource-Dependent African States: A Political Economy Game. AGDI Working Paper No. WP/17/037.Google Scholar
  23. Lederman, D., and W. Maloney. 2008. In Search of the Missing Resource Curse. Washington, DC: World Bank.Google Scholar
  24. Lo, V.I., and M. Hiscock (eds.). 2014. The Rise of the BRICS in the Global Political Economy: Changing Paradigms? Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.Google Scholar
  25. McGuirk, E.F. 2013. The Illusory Leader: Natural Resources, Taxation and Accountability. Public Choice 154 (3–4): 285–313.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. McMillan, M.S., and D. Rodrik. 2011. Globalization, Structural Change and Productivity Growth. National Bureau of Economic Research No. w17143.Google Scholar
  27. MDG Report. 2014. Assessing Progress in Africa Toward the Millennium Development Goals. Addis Ababa.Google Scholar
  28. Mehlum, H., K. Moene, and R. Torvik. 2006. Institutions and the Resource Curse. The Economic Journal 116 (508): 1–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Ngwafu, P.A. 2016. US Support for Democracy in Africa: Discrepant Orientations of Anglophone and Francophone Africa Towards Democratic Practices, Good Governance & Human Rights. African Social Science Review 8 (1): 23–48.Google Scholar
  30. Nwapi C., and N. Andrews. 2017. A New Developmental State in Africa: Evaluating Recent State Interventions Vis-a-Vis Resource Extraction in Kenya, Tanzania, and Rwanda. McGill Journal of Sustainable Development and. Law 13 (2): 223–267.Google Scholar
  31. OECD. 2013. Fragile States 2013: Resource Flows and Trends in a Shifting World. OECD Publishing, Paris and International Monetary Fund (IMF), Washington, DC. Available at
  32. Prebisch, R. 1959. Commercial Policy in Underdeveloped Countries. The American Economic Review 49 (2): 251–273.Google Scholar
  33. Radelet, S. 2007. Reviving Economic Growth in Liberia. Centre for Global Development (CGD) Working Paper, No. 133, CGD, Washington, DC. Available at
  34. Robinson, J.A., R. Torvik, and T. Verdier. 2006. Political Foundations of the Resource Curse. Journal of Development Economics 79 (2): 447–468.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Rodrik, D. 2016. An African Growth Miracle? Journal of African Economies 27 (1): 10–27.Google Scholar
  36. Routley, L. 2014. Developmental States in Africa? A Review of Ongoing Debates and Buzzwords. Development Policy Review 32 (2): 159–177.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Sachs, J., and A. Warner. 2001. The Curse of Natural Resources. European Economic Review 45 (4–6): 827–838.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Staines, N. 2004. Economic Performance over the Conflict Cycle. IMF Working Paper No. WP/04/95.Google Scholar
  39. Sumner, A. 2012. From Deprivation to Distribution: Is Global Poverty Becoming a Matter of National Inequality? IDS Working Papers, 2012(394), 1–36.Google Scholar
  40. Swaniker, F. 2013. Africa’s Rising Economies. Survival 55: 129–142.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Toh, K. 2016. Emerging Growth Economies in Sub-Saharan Africa. The American Economist 61 (2): 229–244.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. UNDP BCPR. 2008. Post-Conflict Economic Recovery; Enabling Local Ingenuity. Crisis Prevention and Recovery Report 2008, UNDP BCPR (Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery) New York. Available at
  43. UNECA. 2012. Unleashing Africa’s Potential as a Pole of Global Growth. Addis Ababa: United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and Africa Union.Google Scholar
  44. World Bank. 2011. Word Development Report 2011: Conflict, Security, and Development. Washington, DC: World Bank.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. World Bank. 2014 Decades of Sustained Growth Is Transforming Africa’s Economies. Africa Pulse 10 (October).Google Scholar
  46. World Bank. 2015. The Economic Outlook for the Middle East and North Africa. Washington, DC: The World Bank.Google Scholar
  47. World Bank. 2018. World Development Indicators. Washington, DC: The World Bank.Google Scholar
  48. Zamfir, I. 2016. Africa’s Economic Growth: Taking Off or Slowing Down? Members’ Research Service, Directorate-General for Parliamentary Research Services, European Parliament.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2021

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Development StudiesBrightonUK
  2. 2.Centre for Petroleum Energy Economics and Law, University of IbadanIbadanNigeria

Personalised recommendations