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Services Inputs and Firm Productivity in Sub-Saharan Africa: Evidence from Firm-Level Data

  • Jens Matthias Arnold
  • Aaditya Mattoo
  • Gaia Narciso

This paper investigates the relationship between the productivity of African manufacturing firms and their access to services inputs. We use data from the World Bank Enterprise Survey for over 1,000 firms in ten Sub-Saharan African countries to calculate the total factor productivity of firms. The Enterprise Surveys also contain unique measures of firms' access to communications, electricity and financial services. The availability of these measures at the firm level, both as subjective and objective indicators, allows us to exploit the variation in services performance at the sub-national regional level. Furthermore, by using the regional variation in services performance, we are also able to address concerns about the possible endogeneity of the services variables. Our results show a significant and positive relationship between firm productivity and service performance in all three services sectors analysed. The paper thus provides support for the argument that improvements in services industries contribute to enhancing the performance of downstream economic activities, and thus are an essential element of a strategy for promoting growth and reducing poverty. Copyright 2008 The authors 2008. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Centre for the Study of African Economies. All rights reserved. For permissions, please email:, Oxford University Press.

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Article provided by Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE) in its journal Journal of African Economies.

Volume (Year): 17 (2008)
Issue (Month): 4 (August)
Pages: 578-599

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Handle: RePEc:oup:jafrec:v:17:y:2008:i:4:p:578-599
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  1. James Tybout, 1999. "Manufacturing Firms in Developing Countries: How Well Do They Do, and Why?," Development and Comp Systems 9906001, EconWPA, revised 10 Jun 1999.
  2. Benn Eifert & Alan Gelb & Vijaya Ramachandran, 2005. "Business Environment and Comparative Advantage in Africa: Evidence from the Investment Climate Data," Working Papers 56, Center for Global Development.
  3. G. Steven Olley & Ariel Pakes, 1992. "The Dynamics of Productivity in the Telecommunications Equipment Industry," NBER Working Papers 3977, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Clarke, George R.G., 2005. "Beyond tariffs and quotas : why don't African manufacturers export more?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3617, The World Bank.
  5. Freund, Caroline L. & Weinhold, Diana, 2004. "The effect of the Internet on international trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(1), pages 171-189, January.
  6. Jens Matthias Arnold & Beata Smarzynska Javorcik, 2005. "Gifted Kids or Pushy Parents? Foreign Acquisitions and Plant Performance in Indonesia," Development Working Papers 197, Centro Studi Luca d\'Agliano, University of Milano.
  7. Nina Pavcnik, 2000. "Trade Liberalization, Exit, and Productivity Improvements: Evidence from Chilean Plants," NBER Working Papers 7852, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Mattoo, Aaditya & Rathindran, Randeep & Subramanian, Arvind, 2001. "Measuring services trade liberalization and its impact on economic growth : an illustration," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2655, The World Bank.
  9. Van Biesebroeck, Johannes, 2005. "Exporting raises productivity in sub-Saharan African manufacturing firms," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(2), pages 373-391, December.
  10. Catherine A. Pattillo & Taye Mengistae, 2002. "Export Orientation and Productivity in Sub-Saharan Africa," IMF Working Papers 02/89, International Monetary Fund.
  11. Arnold, Jens & Javorcik, Beata & Mattoo, Aaditya, 2006. "Does Services Liberalization Benefit Manufacturing Firms?," CEPR Discussion Papers 5902, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  12. Fink, Carsten & Mattoo, Aaditya & Neagu, Ileana Cristina, 2002. "Assessing the impact of communication costs on international trade," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2929, The World Bank.
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