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Exporting from Manufacturing Firms in Sub-Saharan Africa


  • Neil Rankin
  • Måns Söderbom
  • Francis Teal


The poor performance of many African economies has been associated with low growth of exports in general and of manufacturing exports in particular. In this paper, we draw on micro-evidence of manufacturing firms in five African countries, Kenya, Ghana, Tanzania, South Africa and Nigeria, to investigate the causes of poor exporting performance. We exploit a data set which has a much longer panel dimension than that has been used before to assess the relative importance of self-selection based on efficiency and firm size as determinants of export participation. We show that firm size is a robust determinant of the decision to export. It is not a proxy for efficiency, for capital intensity, for sector or for time-invariant unobservables. In contrast, the evidence for self-selection into exporting is very weak. Finally, our use of a longer run panel than that has been available before has allowed us to separate out the roles of ownership and skills as possible determinants of participation in exporting. We find that both foreign ownership and skills are significant determinants of exporting. Copyright 2006, Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Neil Rankin & Måns Söderbom & Francis Teal, 2006. "Exporting from Manufacturing Firms in Sub-Saharan Africa," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 15(4), pages 671-687, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:jafrec:v:15:y:2006:i:4:p:671-687

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Siba, Eyerusalem & Gebreeyesus, Mulu, 2014. "Learning to export and learning by exporting: The case of Ethiopian manufacturing," WIDER Working Paper Series 105, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    2. Yoshino, Yutaka, 2008. "Domestic constraints, firm characteristics, and geographical diversification of firm-level manufacturing exports in Africa," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4575, The World Bank.
    3. BOERMANS, Martijn Adriaan, 2013. "LEARNING-BY-EXPORTING AND DESTINATION EFFECTS: EVIDENCE FROM AFRICAN SMEs," Applied Econometrics and International Development, Euro-American Association of Economic Development, vol. 13(2), pages 149-168.
    4. Miklós Koren & Silvana Tenreyro, 2013. "Technological Diversification," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(1), pages 378-414, February.
    5. Robert Darko Osei & Charles Ackah & George Domfe & Michael Danquah, 2015. "Political settlements, the deals environment and economic growth: The case of Ghana," Brooks World Poverty Institute Working Paper Series esid-053-15, BWPI, The University of Manchester.
    6. Bresnahan, Lauren & Coxhead, Ian & Foltz, Jeremy & Mogues, Tewodaj, 2016. "Does Freer Trade Really Lead to Productivity Growth? Evidence from Africa," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 86(C), pages 18-29.
    7. Edwards, Lawrence & Balchin, Neil, 2008. "Trade related business climate and manufacturing export performance in Africa: A firm-level analysis," MPRA Paper 32863, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    8. Marianne Matthee & Neil Rankin & Tasha Naughtin & Carli Bezuidenhout, 2016. "The South African manufacturing exporter story," WIDER Working Paper Series 038, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    9. Brach, Juliane & Naudé, Wim, 2012. "International entrepreneurship and technological capabilities in the Middle East and North Africa," MERIT Working Papers 020, United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
    10. Baptist, Simon & Teal, Francis, 2014. "Technology and Productivity in African Manufacturing Firms," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 64(C), pages 713-725.
    11. Mai Anh NGO, 2015. "Exporting and Firm-Level Credit Constraints-Evidence from Ghana," Working Papers DP-2015-27, Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA).
    12. Mina Baliamoune-Lutz, 2011. "Growth by Destination (Where You Export Matters): Trade with China and Growth in African Countries," African Development Review, African Development Bank, vol. 23(2), pages 202-218.
    13. Francis Teal, 2010. "Higher Education and Economic Development in Africa: a Review of Channels and Interactions," Economics Series Working Papers CSAE WPS/2010-25, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
    14. Edwards, Lawrence & Rankin, Neil A. & Schöer, Volker, 2008. "South African exporting firms: What do we know and what should we know?," MPRA Paper 16906, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    15. Hanh Vu Thi, 2015. "Essays on the Export Performance of Vietnam/Essais sur la Performance à l'Exportation du Vietnam," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/216765, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    16. Walkenhorst, Peter & Cattaneo, Olivier, 2006. "Trade, Diversification and Growth in Nigeria," MPRA Paper 23735, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    17. Daniel Lederman & Taye Mengistae & Lixin Colin Xu, 2013. "Microeconomic consequences and macroeconomic causes of foreign direct investment in southern African economies," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 45(25), pages 3637-3649, September.
    18. World Bank, 2007. "Nigeria - Competitiveness and Growth : Country Economic Memorandum, Volume 2. Main Report," World Bank Other Operational Studies 7824, The World Bank.
    19. Gozde Isik & Yutaka Yoshino, 2010. "Patterns of Foreign Direct Investment Flows and Trade-Investment Inter-Linkages in Southern Africa : Linking Middle-Income and Low-Income Neighbors," World Bank Other Operational Studies 12990, The World Bank.
    20. Alexander Krauss, 2015. "Creating and destroying jobs across East Asia Pacific: a country-level analysis on wages, exports, finance, regulation and infrastructure," IZA Journal of Labor & Development, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 4(1), pages 1-24, December.
    21. Hoekstra, Ruth, 2013. "Boosting Manufacturing Firms' Exports? The role of trade facilitation in Africa," IEE Working Papers 197, Institut fuer Entwicklungsforschung und Entwicklungspolitik, Ruhr-Universitaet Bochum.
    22. Egbert, Henrik & Fischer, Gundula & Bredl, Sebastian, 2009. "Advertisements or friends? Formal and informal recruitment methods in Tanzania," Discussion Papers 46, Justus Liebig University Giessen, Center for international Development and Environmental Research (ZEU).
    23. Paluku Kazimoto, 2014. "Assessment of Challenges facing Small and Medium Enterprises towards International Marketing Standards: a Case Study of Arusha Region Tanzania," International Journal of Academic Research in Accounting, Finance and Management Sciences, Human Resource Management Academic Research Society, International Journal of Academic Research in Accounting, Finance and Management Sciences, vol. 4(2), pages 303-311, April.
    24. Marianne Matthee & Neil Rankin & Carli Bezuidenhout, 2017. "Labour demand and the distribution of wages in South African manufacturing exporters," WIDER Working Paper Series 011, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).

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