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


Zimbabwe’s Road to Serfdom

By Steve H. Hanke. October 28, 2018.

Why Mugabe’s Land Reforms Were so Disastrous

By Alexander Hammond and Marian L. Tupy. CapX. August 30, 2018.

U.S. Security Aid Enables Torture in Cameroon

By A. Trevor Thrall and Jordan Cohen. UPI. August 14, 2018.

Cato Studies

Misallocation, Property Rights, and Access to Finance: Evidence from within and across Africa

By Sebnem Kalemli-Ozcan and Bent E. Sørensen. Research Briefs in Economic Policy No. 7. August 6, 2014.

Sustaining the Economic Rise of Africa

By Marian L. Tupy and Dalibor Rohac. Economic Development Bulletin No. 22. August 1, 2014.

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.


Zimbabwe Hyperinflates, Again: The 58th Episode of Hyperinflation in History

Steve H. Hanke and Erik Bostrom. Studies in Applied Economics. No. 90. October 2017.

Is South Suden Hyperinflating?

Steve H. Hanke. Studies in Applied Economics. No. 75. February 2017.

Somalia after State Collapse: Chaos or Improvement?

Alex Nowrasteh. Journal for Economic Behavior and Organization. Vol. 67. No. 3. September 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

79. U.S. Policy toward Sub-Saharan Africa

Cato Handbook for Policymakers. Cato Handbook for Policymakers, 8th Edition (2017).

Africa’s Third Liberation: The New Search for Prosperity and Jobs by Greg Mills and Jeffrey Herbst

Marian L. Tupy. Cato Journal. Fall 2013.

The Looming Fiscal Train Wreck

Policy Report. May/June 2013.


Making Africa Work: A Handbook

Featuring Greg Mills, Jeffrey Herbst, Olusegun Obasanjo, Dickie Davis, & Marian L. Tupy. September 19, 2017. Book Forum.

South Africa at a Crossroad: Will Growing Opposition Remove the African National Congress from Power?

Featuring Herman Mashaba, Marian L. Tupy, and Richard Tren. June 16, 2017. Policy Forum.

The Struggle Continues: 50 Years of Tyranny in Zimbabwe

Featuring Marian L. Tupy. April 25, 2016. Book Forum.