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


Lift the Hunting Ban, Save Botswana’s Elephants

By Steve H. Hanke. June 20, 2019.

Africa, Flying Blind and Miserable

By Steve H. Hanke. May 15, 2019.

Africa and the Blood of Christians

By Doug Bandow. American Conservative. March 28, 2019.

Cato Studies

More Legislation, More Violence? The Impact of Dodd-Frank in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

By Nik Stoop and Peter van der Windt. Research Briefs in Economic Policy No. 145. January 9, 2019.

The Arrival of Fast Internet and Employment in Africa

By Jonas Hjort and Jonas Poulsen. Research Briefs in Economic Policy No. 93. December 20, 2017.

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.


The Struggle For Liberty in Africa

Cato's Letter. Magatte Wade. Vol. 17. No. 3. Summer 2019.

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.

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.


Zimbabwe: Africa’s Shame and Opportunity

Featuring Steve H. Hanke and Marian L. Tupy. April 15, 2019. Policy Forum.

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.