Growth and development policy

New data, new approaches, and new evidence – Part II: Southern Africa

In contrast to South Africa, most of the other economies in the southern Africa region have grown reasonably rapidly over the past two decades. Recent experience has, however, highlighted the vulnerability of these economies to shocks, sometimes external and sometimes of their own making. For example, for two decades, Mozambique posted one of the fastest economic growth rates in the world. In 2016, a combination of governance failures, political instability (not unrelated to the governance failures), and lower commodity prices for coal and natural gas has generated an ongoing macroeconomic crisis. Per capita GDP growth in Mozambique is expected to be close to zero in 2016.

This note is part II of a series. Part I considered South Africa taking the rest of the world as given. Part II considers southern Africa as a whole. It takes stock of the experience of the past two decades and seeks to chart realistic paths forward from a regional growth and development perspectives. It is structured as follows. Section 2 provides background and motivation including a discussion of the philosophy of the research programme undertaken within the framework of this project. Section 3 considers six specific areas where a regional growth and development perspective may have particular promise. These areas are: the spread of regional supermarket chains; the poultry value chain; trucking; mining equipment and related services; energy including bioenergy; and confronting climate change. A final section summarizes and concludes.