Working Paper
Economic and Institutional Reforms in French-Speaking West Africa

Impact on Efficiency and Growth

This essay examines some outcomes of two decades of market oriented reforms in the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU). In general, economic performance, measured by growth of per capita incomes, has not been encouraging, despite far reaching reforms, including privatization, liberalization, and deep regional integration.
Social indicators suggest that poverty reduction has not been achieved through reforms. Several indicators on access to primary health care, and inputs and outcomes in primary education show deteriorating trends in the majority of countries. However, social indicators in the WAEMU are better than those in other countries in sub-Saharan Africa.
Finally, the paper attempts to test the extent to which institutional quality in WAEMU differs from that in other parts of the world. The general results from this exercise are that (i) indicators of institutional quality in sub-Saharan Africa is significantly lower than in non-African parts of the world; (ii) this explains much of the growth difference; and (iii) institutional quality in WAEMU does not differ from that in other parts of Africa, despite more centralized institutions.