Africa lags behind most of the world in practically all indicators of human well-being, including longevity, infant mortality, HIV, malaria and tuberculosis occurrence, nourishment, school enrolment, long-term economic growth, and income per capita. The ability of the United States to help Africa is limited because most of Africa’s development problems are caused by domestic factors requiring domestic solutions. Those problems are extensive and have been aggravated by arbitrary and authoritarian rule, which has been the norm for most of Africa’s independence. Centralized political control has undermined political stability, the rule of law, the security of individuals, the protection of private property, and growth.

As long as its economic freedom remains low, Africa’s economic performance will continue to disappoint. Similarly, African countries are unlikely to escape poverty as long as their governments remain unaccountable and their actions arbitrary. Unfortunately, there is little the United States can do to positively influence the evolution of Africa’s governing institutions and the policies that African countries adopt.

More on Sub-Saharan Africa

Commentary

Well-intentioned Laws, Courts Cripple Growth

By Swaminathan S. Anklesaria Aiyar. Times of India. April 27, 2014.

Blurring the Typical Boundaries

By Doug Bandow. The New York Times (Online). April 21, 2014.

Whistleblowers Need Protection

By Doug Bandow. Orange County Register. April 11, 2014.

Cato Studies

Zimbabwe: Why Is One of the World’s Least-Free Economies Growing So Fast?

By Craig J. Richardson. Policy Analysis No. 722. March 18, 2013.

Why Is Africa Poor?

By Greg Mills. Development Briefing Paper No. 6. December 6, 2010.

The State of Liberal Democracy in Africa: Resurgence or Retreat?

By Tony Leon. Development Policy Analysis No. 12. April 26, 2010.

Articles

How to Kill Zimbabwe’s Hyperinflation

Steve H. Hanke. Global Dialogue. August 2008.

Public Filings

Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum

By Ilya Shapiro and Anastasia Killian. Legal Briefs. February 3, 2012.

Zimbabwe: From Crisis to Renewal

By Marian L. Tupy. Testimony. December 2, 2010.

Cato Reviews & Journals

Africa’s Third Liberation: The New Search for Prosperity and Jobs

Marian L. Tupy. Cato Journal. Fall 2013.

The Looming Fiscal Train Wreck

Policy Report. May/June 2013.

Events

Cry the Beloved Country: South Africa’s Future under the ANC

Featuring Marian L. Tupy. March 14, 2013. Policy Forum.

Africa’s Third Liberation: The New Search for Prosperity and Jobs

Featuring Marian L. Tupy. October 23, 2012. Book Forum.

Why Africa Is Poor and What Africans Can Do about It

Featuring Marian L. Tupy and Ian Vásquez. October 6, 2010. Book Forum.