Cyclical growth

A readable book which reframes popular debate on Africa’s growth, or lack of it. Jerven offers explanations of why economists have chronically failed to explain growth in Africa

Economists continue to get Africa wrong; how and why is the topic of this readable book. Africa’s rising potential is now widely talked about; a contrast to negative stereotypes of ‘hopelessness’ rampant in the mainstream media a few years ago. Why? According to Jerven, this is because African economic data is either bad quality or largely misunderstood, misread and misrepresented. Instead, African growth should be understood as cyclical or episodic as opposed to ‘failed’. Opposing international political narratives, for example whether policy should liberalise trade or whether it should advocate for state intervention, have also effected how data has been collected and used. The book is a refreshing and provocative challenge to mainstream accounts of African economic history since the 1950s. Further analysis on prevailing inequality and hunger statistics would strengthen Jerven’s points on the need to critically re-examine historically misread African economic data. Still, the author asks necessary questions which challenge questionable statistics rather than just citing them.

The Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) is a joint international institution of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States and the European Union (EU). CTA operates under the framework of the Cotonou Agreement and is funded by the EU.