Book Chapter
Agriculture, Growth, and Development in Africa

Theory and Practice

From the book: Oxford Handbook of Africa and Economics, Vol. 2.

Africa has achieved a much-improved agricultural and economic growth performance over the last 15 years. During 2003-2010 the agricultural sector grew at an annual average rate of almost 4%, while GDP and GDP per capita grew at a remarkable 5.4% and 2.6.% over the same period. The improved growth comes after decades of ebbing growth that started in the late 1970s, reaching crisis proportions in the 1980s, and only began to show signs of recovery in the mid-1990s.

With about two-thirds of Africa’s population residing in rural areas where it largely relies on agriculture for subsistence and incomes, performance of the agricultural sector continues to have important implications for food security, growth, and development. A key question facing African economies in the coming decades is how to transit from recovery to structural transformation, in order to deepen the ongoing growth process and broaden its impact on livelihoods.

The chapter examines how Africa can accelerate its recent growth recovery and spur a structural transformation. It reviews how development theory and practice in Africa have evolved, discusses challenges and opportunities to an agriculture-led growth strategy as well as derives policy implications for advancing a successful structural transformation.