“Non-Catch-up Development” of Africa. Economist’s observations on forecasts, statistical manipulations, demographic romanticism and rejuvenation of elites


Leonid Fituni


The article analyzes the long-run reliability and sustainability of the basic arguments referred to in assessing the upward development of Africa in the 21st century. The author argues that the ongoing changes in the global economy and the nature of the current transformation of the world order put in doubt that the “catch-up development” of the continent will advance exactly as foreseen by the basic African development strategies and as it is customary to present them in scientific literature. He supports his assessment by showing that some of the initial statistical estimates and projections of existing trends may have been based on a not completely correct statistical basis. Much attention is paid to a more realistic approach to the role of the “demographic dividend” in the future. The article systematizes and classifies the fundamental reasons why such miscalculations occurred and what needs to be taken into account in order to obtain to more estimates and more realistic scenarios of future development. The author insists that the “demographic dividend” does not inevitably arise by itself. For the favorable effects of the demographic dividend to occur, it is necessary to create high-quality, more productive jobs. Only in this case can the expected positive social and economic shifts follow, including the growth of the African middle class. For the first time, the economic problems of catch-up development are linked to the process of “rejuvenation of the elites” that is developing and being stimulated by a number of external players. For these purposes, external state and non-state actors may use sanctions and other restrictive measures. The author provides a classification and description of three types of behavioral patterns of African youth in politics. In African conditions understanding of those issues is crucial since young people constitute the majority of the population in a huge number of countries on the continent.


“catch-up development”, economic growth, GDP statistics, elites, sanctions, economic and political activism, behavioral models in politics




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