Solving Africa’s Growth Puzzles

An Interview with Andy McKay

25 February 2013

Andy McKay, professor of development economics at University of Sussex, discusses the motivating factors behind UNU-WIDER’s Growth and Poverty Project (GAPP) with Carl-Gustav Lindén, senior communications specialist at UNU-WIDER.

In the GAPP project Africa’s growth, poverty and inequality trends are re-examined. The growth rates in the continent have been much better over the last 15 years than previously, but this story hides many puzzles that researchers are trying to solve.

‘What we don’t know much about is how this [growth] turns into better living conditions for people that live in Africa; to what extent has that growth been associated with poverty reduction, or have the benefits of this growth gone to multinational companies and rich people and not accrued to the ordinary people in Africa’, Professor McKay says.

He also notes that, despite better access to data on Africa’s poverty, the fastest growing countries are those where researchers have the hardest time to understand the situation of the poorest people, like Angola, Sudan, and even Nigeria.

‘We don’t really have a consistent story about what happens to poverty’, he says.

On 20-21 September 2013 there will be a chance to get involved in the discussion on the performance, prospects, and policies for promoting more inclusive growth in Africa. Andy McKay and fellow GAPP researchers will convene in Helsinki then for the UNU-WIDER development conference ‘Inclusive Growth in Africa: Measurement, Causes and Consequences’.

The conference will encourage dialogue between and among researchers and policy makers from the academic, government, and international development communities. The formal call for papers for the conference is open until 1 April 2013; for more information go here.