The past 30 years have been disastrous for most of the people of Africa. While the Asian Tigers experienced some of the fastest growth rates and reductions in poverty recorded in world history, most of Africa remained mired in poverty. But things are changing for the better in some parts of the continent. A growing group of sub-Saharan countries are embracing democracy and good governance, instilling stronger macroeconomic management, and benefiting from significant debt relief. These countries are beginning to experience faster economic growth, the beginnings of poverty reduction, and improvements in health and education. At the same time, some of the most protracted conflicts around the continent have come to an end, including in Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Sierra Leone. Liberia, after 14 years of some of the most brutal conflict on the planet, is now at peace, and is beginning the long road towards economic recovery and development. This CGD Essay, by Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and CGD senior fellow Steven Radelet, looks at the growth of democracy and economic activity in sub-Saharan Africa, particularly the case of Liberia, and offers recommendations for how progress can be sustained and consolidated.
This CGD Essay originally appeared in Visions of Growth: Global Perspectives for Tomorrow’s Wellbeing, Beatrice Weder di Mauro, editor, published in German by Campus Verlag (2008).