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The Leadership Factor in African Policy Reform and Growth


  • Gray, C.
  • McPherson, M.


In 1997 the World Bank's two vice-presidents for Sub-Saharan Africa attributed a significant improvement in Africa's growth prospects to the advent of a new generation of leaders, replacing their "once largely statist and corrupt" predecessors. This paper begins by tracing the evolution of African chief executives over the past two decades. Of 48 holding office on 1st anuary 1999, 22 were in power a decade earlier and eight already ten years before that. Examination of ten countries, with focus on Kenya and Zambia, raises the question: why, after these incumbents had presided over economic catastrophe, were socio-political structures unable to replace them with better leaders? A review of leading treatments of the political economy of economic reform highlights the dichotomy between interest-group analysis, versus studies that accord a major role to the unpredictable advent of individuals with qualities that, by promoting policy reform, help launch their countries onto paths of rapid growth.

Suggested Citation

  • Gray, C. & McPherson, M., 1999. "The Leadership Factor in African Policy Reform and Growth," Papers 29, Bell Communications - Economic Research Group.
  • Handle: RePEc:fth:bellco:29

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    JEL classification:

    • O55 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Africa
    • E61 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Policy Objectives; Policy Designs and Consistency; Policy Coordination
    • H10 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - General


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