economy


Direct investment in African nations by the previous colonial rulers.  Click to enlarge enough to read.

Direct investment in African nations by the previous colonial rulers

This is a very large graphic by Richard Johnson from Canada’s National Post. Click it a couple of times to enlarge enough to read. The reasons for the investment are along the bottom. The west depends on the wealth of Africa.

The petition below has my heartfelt support. EPAs have nearly destroyed Ghana’s poultry industry (and a great many more economic sectors) and severely damaged our family farming efforts. The EU dumps frozen chicken parts on Ghana and West Africa that are subsidized to sell below what it costs to produce them. Frozen chicken parts are not as tasty or as healthy as locally grown chicken, but they are cheaper, and the Ghana poultry farmers can’t compete. Only a few times a year, generally on holidays when people want something really good, will they splurge and buy chickens grown locally.

As it says in the petition below:

The EU’s current economic crisis is partly due to the same unbridled liberalisation policies it is trying to impose on us through the EPAs.
we locked ourselves into agreements that predictably provided all the guarantees and benefits for our ‘partners’. We are left with dwindling shares, missed opportunities, the destruction of livelihoods and of the very environment we live in! Our national and regional development plans and their integration must come first and determine the scope and content of any EPAs. The world is very different at the end of 2011 than it was at the beginning of 2002 when EPA negotiations began. The speed of change, including negative change is the key feature of economic fortunes. The entire ECOWAS leadership and the Government of Ghana must begin to lay down concrete alternatives to the EPA as they meet in Accra this week.

Thirty or so years of trade liberalisation … has brought collapse of industries, paralysis of agriculture and unprecedented mass unemployment and youth discontent in our societies.

As another press release from Third World Network Africa points out:

The other change [since 2002] is in the shifting centre of gravity of the global economy from regions like Europe to East Asia. Our contention is that the IEPA must be abandoned. It is a threat to the re-positioning of the national economy and to regional integration in ECOWAS.

The full text of the petition is below the graphic. The distinguished groups who sponsor and sign it are listed at the end, all members of the EJN, Economic Justice Network of Ghana.

Handshake wrapped in money, who gets the money?

PETITION TO THE MINISTER OF TRADE AND INDUSTRY ON THE ECONOMIC PARTNERSHIP AGREEMENT
Written by members of the ECONOMIC JUSTICE NETWORK OF GHANA (EJN)
Monday, 28 November 2011 14:29

GHANA CANNOT RIDE TWO HORSES – PETITION TO THE MINISTER OF TRADE AND INDUSTRY ON THE ECONOMIC PARTNERSHIP AGREEMENT (EU) WITH THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION ON 28TH NOVEMBER 2011

1.0 Preamble

As Ghana hosts the ECOWAS Ministerial Monitoring Committee Meeting (MMC) from the 28 -30th November 2011, the preservation of the coherence of our Economic Community and the future of West Africa’s Regional Integration hangs in the balance. The so-called Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) West Africa is currently negotiating with the European Union (EU) has already caused costly divisions in ECOWAS.

The EPA has created at least 3 contradictory trade regimes in a region that is supposed to have a single unified trade regime. LDCs in West Africa currently trade with the EU under the non-reciprocal Everything But Arms regime; as a non-LDC, Nigeria trades under what is known under the EU GSP; and Cote d’Ivoire has a bilateral EPA with the EU under which it is exempt on a small range of taxes imposed on Nigerian exports to the EU, BUT in exchange for exempting 81% of all imports from EU into Cote d’Ivoire from any tariff whatsoever.

The EU is our biggest trading partner and impacts our economies for better or for worse. Goods coming into West Africa from the EU will come in at 3 different tariff regimes and costs. What then will happen to the flow of these goods from each of these three sets of countries into each other as well as all other goods trade that exists between them? It is not difficult to imagine the trade bans, blockades and wars that will escalate within the region. This is the state of affairs that exists in West Africa as the MMC convenes in Accra today. The implications for ECOWAS are simply staggering.

But in can get much worse. In addition to these three trade regimes Ghana is on the brink of finalising and making PERMANENT its own INTERIM EPA which it undertook as a temporary measure three years ago. The Ghana IEPA has only slightly better terms in the scope of free entry it allows imports from Europe. Thus, Ghana will join Cote d’Ivoire in offering EU imports the most liberal, widest and therefore potentially most damaging market access. Meanwhile Ghana’s terms are not identical to that offered by Cote d’Ivoire. In effect, the Government of Ghana would have created a FOURTH trade regime in West Africa. How can anyone seriously claim that this is and will remain in the national interest of Ghana? If taken any further, Ghana’s unilateral stance will be a disaster for herself and for the region she is permanently tied to!

However this need not happen if Ghana and sister West African governments show vision and leadership and put the defence of ECOWAS’ integrity today and its progressive development tomorrow as the central common priority and shared destiny.

The current MMC which gets underway in Accra this morning and the outcomes it produces will accelerate ECOWAS fracture or consolidate and enhance its future.

2.0 Issues in the EPA and Our Position:

1. The threats by Ghana Government to sign and ratify the interim EPA initialed in 2007 will destroy efforts over the years to integrate as one region. Ghana’s Interim EPAs eliminates tariffs on above 80% of EU trade goods but the collective ECOWAS EPA is currently offering much less than that. ECOWAS is now considering 70% offer, we think this is already too high and too dangerous for our economies! But the EU still rejects the (excessive) 70% offer. The EU is intransigent to the ECOWAS position because once it has the 80%-plus benchmark from Ghana (and Cote d’Ivoire) it knows West Africa’s common stance has been greatly weakened. The EU’s ruthlessness, divisive and bullying stance in the EPAs has been officially acknowledged and condemned by African governments, including Ghana. But the example and fact of Ghana’s IEPA gives the EU clear evidence and encourages its confidence that if it remains just as ruthless for long enough other West African governments will crack. Today, it is Ghana’s position that is in the balance. The Ghana IEPA is a Trojan horse. We demand the Ghana IEPA be suspended immediately and Government commits fully and unconditionally to the collective ECOWAS EPA process, including the immediate issue of the collective position on the scope of Market Access.

2. ECOWAS must take a collective stance which, among others, compensates non-LDC members like Ghana for the costs in extra tariffs that their exports to the EU market will attract if they abandon the IEPA. Credible estimates indicate that the three non-LDCs in West Africa will incur additional tariffs on their exports into EU of about €132million if they trade without an EPA. Ghana’s direct share of these losses will be about €37 million euro. The economy, total global trade and the livelihoods of the overwhelming majority of 25 million Ghanaians cannot be sacrificed for a paltry tax bill of 37 million euro. West Africa’s development and its future cannot be sold for 132 million euro. ECOWAS must immediately create a REGIONAL SOLIDARITY FUND to absorb these losses. Ghana must signal her complete commitment to promoting this Regional Solidarity Fund rather than its ‘national interest’ in the IEPA. It must also reject the attacks the EU is making on the ECOWAS levy in the EPA negotiations, as this is the kind of mechanism needed to create the solidarity fund.

3. Beyond the immediate threat of extra tariffs on exports to Europe from Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana and Nigeria (the non-LDC countries in ECOWAS), it must be made clear that ALL West African countries will incur massive fiscal losses from the EPAs. It is worth reminder that the 13 West African LDCs currently export everything but arms duty-free, quota-free to the EU market. But they are currently entitled to impose tariffs on all EU imports. Revenue from trade tariffs are the lifeblood for these and other least developed as well as vulnerable lower income developing countries. Ghana alone stands to lose $194 million (UNECA, 2005). Under the EPA even the LDCs have to grant EU imports free entry and lose the associated revenues from tariffs. This will be ‘in exchange’ for something they ALREADY HAVE (and have for free), i.e. duty-free quota-free access to EU markets for all exports apart from arms.

Further, the EU’s position on various aspects of the EPAs, e.g. standstill on introduction of new tariffs and taxes or increase in existing ones; restrictions on the use of export taxes and quantitative restrictions; the MFN, non-execution clause and others, collectively termed ‘contentious issues’ in the negotiations, will divert trade within West Africa as well as West African trade with other, non-EU countries and regions to their gain but to our loss. They will also undermine the Region’s efforts to industrialize and its ability to move up the industrial value chain. As a result, the region will remain a perpetual supplier of raw materials, with all the adverse implications that this entails. Any regional EPA must remove these EU impositions and narrow the scope of threat or damage to ECOWAS. Suspending Ghana’s IEPA and the provisions it contains on these issues will enhance ECOWAS ability to review and strengthen its collective positions.

1[4]. The EU’s demands and pressure in areas that go beyond tariffs and World Trade Organization (WTO) commitments – such as Financial Services, Public Procurement, Investment, Health, Raw Materials, Natural Resources and Intellectual Property – pose even greater threats and are of more strategic importance to Ghana’s (as well as West Africa’s) economic transformation, industrialization and overall development. In the case of Services, internal trade within West Africa is even bigger and more dynamic than trade in goods within the region. But West Africa is hardly in a position to export services to the EU. Officials claim that negotiating and including services (as well as the other WTO-plus, Trade-Related Issues like Procurement. Investment and Intellectual Property) will create a predictable environment for EU trade and investment in West Africa. We have already had increasingly free trade in goods with the EU and others for more than 30 years. There is one predictable outcome we already know – EU companies will dominate in these areas, our already low existing capacity will be weakened even further, including our foothold in the growth areas of trade in services and in manufactures within West Africa. Any EPA must be a goods-only agreement and must exclude Services and the so-called Trade related Issues.

5. While ECOWAS has bent over backwards to accommodate EU demands, her ‘partner’ remains inflexible, unyielding or worse. In fact the EU has consistently flouted and retracted on commitments it has previously made. A most telling example is in the area of EU responsibility to finance fiscal losses West African countries will incur as a result of entering into EPAs. Another is the subterfuge the EU has shown in respect of providing ADDITIONAL funding for the EPA Development Programme (or ‘PAPED’). The EU has watered down and reversed commitments and has engaged in patent falsehoods, recycling existing European Development Fund commitments as ‘new and additional funding’. By foul and other means the EU continues to show beyond all reasonable doubt that its interests in the EPAs have little or nothing to do with ECOWAS development or regional integration aspirations, but everything to do with securing preferential advantages in West African economies and markets against all comers – including our own domestic and regional producers and our development needs. ECOWAS must insist and secure binding and unequivocal EU compensation, adjustment and development commitments as a pre-condition for any EPA.

6. But Ghana and West Africa must also prioritize the diversification of their trade away from the EU, as well as our own developmental regionally integrated production capacities, investments and markets. The EU’s current economic crisis is partly due to the same unbridled liberalisation policies it is trying to impose on us through the EPAs. In Europe today, the corporate monopolies in the financial services sector in particular are holding all working people in Europe and whole economies to ransom. Meanwhile as current trends show, many more prospects exits for production partnerships, trade, investment and economic development with emerging regions in the global South. Locking in our entire trade, investment and development finance policies by giving EU privileges no one else has, not even our own companies and citizens, is not a forward looking policy. Today we are unable to share in windfall profits of mining companies because we locked ourselves into agreements that predictably provided all the guarantees and benefits for our ‘partners’. We are left with dwindling shares, missed opportunities, the destruction of livelihoods and of the very environment we live in! Our national and regional development plans and their integration must come first and determine the scope and content of any EPAs. The world is very different at the end of 2011 than it was at the beginning of 2002 when EPA negotiations began. The speed of change, including negative change is the key feature of economic fortunes. The entire ECOWAS leadership and the Government of Ghana must begin to lay down concrete alternatives to the EPA as they meet in Accra this week.

3.0 Conclusion

As Ghanaian organisations and citizens we call on the Government of Ghana to live up to the nation’s role and responsibility to ECOWAS and Africa’s unity and to our self-determination in charting and realising our developmental transformation. Thirty or so years of trade liberalisation has not brought us any closer to this. Rather it has brought collapse of industries, paralysis of agriculture and unprecedented mass unemployment and youth discontent in our societies.

Ghana must pull back from the brink of a unilateralism that will put another nail in the coffin of development in our country and in our region. It must suspend its bilateral EPA and fully and unconditionally return to the fold of the collective regional EPA process. Ghana cannot ride two horses at once. Two horses going in different and opposite direction will tear the rider apart and trample her underfoot.

Sister ECOWAS Trade Ministers and Governments must also play their part that we ride together towards the same destination and destiny for our collective mutual protection and benefit. The ECOWAS MMC must define a collective solution that addresses any losses that Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire and other countries will face in the absence of their interim EPAs. This is the most immediate means to consolidate ECOWAS in the EPA process and in our deep common interests that go way beyond extra taxes that we will have to pay on a very small proportion of our exports to Europe.

Accra, 28th November 2011. Signed by the ff Organizations:
GHANA TRADE UNION CONGRESS,
GHANA TRADE AND LIVELIHOODS COALITION,
ISODEC,
THIRD WORLD NETWORK-AFRICA,
ABIBIMAN FOUNDATION,
ACTION AID GHANA,
GAWU,
SEND FOUNDATION,
FOODSPAN
– all members of the ECONOMIC JUSTICE NETWORK OF GHANA (EJN)

h/t to E.K Bensah for bringing this to my attention:
Emmanuel.K.Bensah Jr.
Communications Officer (Web Journalist)
COMMUNICATIONS UNIT
Third World Network– Africa
9, Ollenu Street East Legon
P.O.Box AN 19452
Accra-Ghana

The human toll here looks to be much worse than the economic toll, and we can be grateful for that.” Larry Kudlow on the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

Milton Friedman and Arnold Harberger, chief theologians, welcome the boys to class at The Chicago School of Economics, the source of the religion we call Free Market Economics. from DonkeyHotey on flickr

Larry Kudlow … On CNBC this week, the “renowned free market, supply-side economist” and host of “The Kudlow Report” noted, regarding the robustness of the markets in the wake of the devastating Japanese earthquake and tsunami, that “The human toll here looks to be much worse than the economic toll, and we can be grateful for that.”

That is the essence of Chicago School free market supply side economics that have blighted US economic development and foreign policy for several decades. The core belief of these economic gangsters is: markets matter, people don’t. Kudlow was only expressing a sentiment that our governing and media elites share, though he will be trashed for saying it out loud. The Chicago School ethic is shared throughout the US Congress, the Defense and State Departments, much of the Judiciary, and even by the President himself.

Mat 7:16 Ye shall know them by their fruits.
And here are those fruits as they have been harvested:

Net worth and financial wealth distribution in the U.S. in 2007. sociology.ucsc.edu/whorulesamerica/power/wealth.html

And to throw in another metaphor, the following chart records the rising tide that is sinking 90% of our boats, income gains and losses 1979-2005. That tide is still surging.

Almost half of the top 12 fastest growing economies in the world come from Africa. Ghana has swept from a 4.5% growth rate last year, to an astonishing 20.146% growth rate for 2011, making Ghana the fastest growing economy in the world.

The true size of Africa in perspective, just a reminder of how big Africa is, and how big its potential is as well.

See more information and detail at The True Size of Africa

Ghana is expected to be the fastest growing economy in the world in 2011!

12 Fastest Growing Economies of 2011

For 2010, we noted that none of the top growth countries were advanced economies; only one was G20.

Many people assume that China is the fastest growing country in the world, but that is not the case – it is the fastest growing large economy, and as we will see that is a different thing.

We also took a look at the key trends that are driving the growth figures.
Let’s take a look at the stats for 2011:

Growth rates are much higher this year. The chart tops out at over 20%.

Once again, developed countries do not feature in the Top 12. Almost half of the top 12 come from Africa. Ghana has swept from 4.5% last year, to an astonishing 20.146% for 2011.

One third of the Top 12 are from the Far East; two from the Middle East and one from Central Asia.

The African decade continues to hold sway. 2010 to 2020 is bringing massive development to the continent. As China continues to boom we will see the Chinese offer more large-scale infrastructure development to African governments in return for natural resources and farmland to support it’s vast population. In turn African countries are continuing to challenge old perceptions of corruption and violence through practicing better governance. Chart leader Ghana is one of Africa’s strongest democracies. African countries will continue to veer in favor of increased prosperity. The picture continues to be replacement of Western aid for Africa by Eastern trade with Africa.

The peace and democracy bonanza.
Rounding of our counter-intuitive list is another perfectly intuitive point. Countries like Ghana who are experiencing a new era of good governance will enjoy massive growth increases. Where there is peace and good governance, prosperity will follow as we see these countries making use of their resources more actively and using them to build, rather than wage war.

Check the Ghana Economic Statistics and Indicators.

Ghana is not the only country in Africa that is doing well. From Roubini Global Economics:
African Poverty Is Falling…Much Faster Than You Think.

Many believe:

Sub-Saharan Africa has made little progress in reducing extreme poverty, according to the latest Millennium Development Report. This column presents evidence from 1970 to 2006 to the contrary.

The sustained African growth of the last 15 years has engendered a steady decline in poverty that puts Africa on track to meet the Goals by 2017. If peace is established in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and it returns to the African trend (which is what happened to other African nations that were formerly at war), Africa will halve its $1/day income poverty rate by 2013, two years ahead of the 2015 target.

Moreover, African poverty reduction has been extremely general. Poverty fell for both landlocked and coastal countries, for mineral-rich and mineral-poor countries, for countries with favourable and unfavourable agriculture, for countries with different colonisers, and for countries with varying degrees of exposure to the African slave trade. The benefits of growth were so widely distributed that African inequality actually fell substantially.

Africa: graph of poverty and GDP, 1970-2006

  • Using the $1/day definition of poverty adopted by the Millennium Development Goals, African poverty declined strikingly, from 41.6% in 1990 to 31.8% in 20061.

  • Poverty seems to co-move with GDP almost perfectly.

  • African inequality has also fallen over this period, almost entirely reversing its rise since 1970, but still remaining at a high absolute level

  • Our main conclusion is that Africa is reducing poverty, and doing it much faster than many thought.

    • The growth from the period 1995-2006, far from benefiting only the elites, has been sufficiently widely spread that both total African inequality and African within-country inequality actually declined over this period.
    • The speed at which Africa has reduced poverty since 1995 puts it on track to achieve the Millennium Development Goal of halving poverty relative to 1990 by 2015 on time or, at worst, a couple of years late.
    • If the Democratic Republic of Congo converges to the African trend once it is stabilised, the MDG will be achieved by 2012, three years before the target date.

    We also find that the African poverty reduction is remarkably general.

    • African poverty reduction cannot be explained by a large country, or even by a single set of countries possessing some beneficial geographical or historical characteristic.
    • All classes of countries, including those with disadvantageous geography and history, experience reductions in poverty.

    This observation is particularly important because it shows that poor geography and history have not posed insurmountable obstacles to poverty reduction.

    The authors, Maxim Pinkovskiy and Xavier Sala-i-Martin, explain their methodology and provide many more graphs that demonstrate their research and conclusions. View the graphs and read more at: African Poverty Is Falling…Much Faster Than You Think

    In a previous post I wrote about The African Growth Miracle PDF study by Alwyn Young at the London School of Economics, published in September 2009. His study showed:

    … real household consumption in sub-Saharan Africa is growing around 3.3 percent per annum, i.e. more than three times the 0.9 to 1.0 percent reported in international data sources and on par with the growth experienced in other developing countries.

    Measures of real consumption based upon the ownership of durable goods, the quality of housing, the health and mortality of children, the education of youth and the allocation of female time in the household indicate that sub-Saharan living standards have, for the past two decades, been growing in excess of 3 percent per annum, i.e. more than three times the rate indicated in international data sets.

    The thing that delayed this growth and created setbacks is war. It is unfortunate that current US attention to Africa is almost entirely military, preparing for more war. US foreign policy in Africa is military policy. The US is missing the African success boat.   It may be trying to sink it with its efforts at seabasing, its emphasis on military training to facilitate proxy war, and where there is war, partnering with the perpetrators.  I would like to see positive development in US relations with African countries.   For that to happen we need US leadership that can learn, that knows a bit of history, or we need new leadership.

    Nevertheless, this news on economic growth and the reduction of poverty and inequality is wonderful news, something we can celebrate as we prepare for lots of hard work ahead.

     

    The world’s wealthiest speculators set up a casino where the chips were the stomachs of hundreds of millions of innocent people. They gambled on increasing starvation, and won.

    Johann Hari writes: How Goldman gambled on starvation. As he describes:

    It starts with an apparent mystery. At the end of 2006, food prices across the world started to rise, suddenly and stratospherically. Within a year, the price of wheat had shot up by 80 per cent, maize by 90 per cent, rice by 320 per cent. In a global jolt of hunger, 200 million people – mostly children – couldn’t afford to get food any more, and sank into malnutrition or starvation. There were riots in more than 30 countries, and at least one government was violently overthrown. Then, in spring 2008, prices just as mysteriously fell back to their previous level. Jean Ziegler, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, calls it “a silent mass murder”, entirely due to “man-made actions.”

    Most of the explanations we were given at the time have turned out to be false. It didn’t happen because supply fell: the International Grain Council says global production of wheat actually increased during that period, for example. It isn’t because demand grew either: as Professor Jayati Ghosh of the Centre for Economic Studies in New Delhi has shown, demand actually fell by 3 per cent. Other factors – like the rise of biofuels, and the spike in the oil price – made a contribution, but they aren’t enough on their own to explain such a violent shift.

    … through the 1990s, Goldman Sachs and others lobbied hard and the regulations were abolished. Suddenly, these contracts were turned into “derivatives” that could be bought and sold among traders who had nothing to do with agriculture. A market in “food speculation” was born.

    Here’s how it happened. In 2006, financial speculators like Goldmans pulled out of the collapsing US real estate market. They reckoned food prices would stay steady or rise while the rest of the economy tanked, so they switched their funds there. Suddenly, the world’s frightened investors stampeded on to this ground.

    So while the supply and demand of food stayed pretty much the same, the supply and demand for derivatives based on food massively rose – which meant the all-rolled-into-one price shot up, and the starvation began. The bubble only burst in March 2008 when the situation got so bad in the US that the speculators had to slash their spending to cover their losses back home.

    As Professor Ghosh points out, some vital crops are not traded on the futures markets, including millet, cassava, and potatoes. Their price rose a little during this period – but only a fraction as much as the ones affected by speculation. Her research shows that speculation was “the main cause” of the rise.

    So it has come to this. The world’s wealthiest speculators set up a casino where the chips were the stomachs of hundreds of millions of innocent people. They gambled on increasing starvation, and won. … What does it say about our political and economic system that we can so casually inflict so much pain?

    As Hari begins his story:

    By now, you probably think your opinion of Goldman Sachs and its swarm of Wall Street allies has rock-bottomed at raw loathing. You’re wrong. There’s more. It turns out that the most destructive of all their recent acts has barely been discussed at all. Here’s the rest. This is the story of how some of the richest people in the world – Goldman, Deutsche Bank, the traders at Merrill Lynch, and more – have caused the starvation of some of the poorest people in the world.

    Read the entire article, which explains what happened more clearly and in greater detail: How Goldman gambled on starvation.

    ________

    To my regular readers, apologies for being absent lately. We are having a major reorganization at my work, and at the same time, major activity with the farms in Ghana. This may keep me fairly busy for another week or two, but for now the major portion of my work on these projects is done.

    These first two graphics come courtesy of The Strategist. I don’t know if this first one is intended for civilians or for military training. Let us hope it is not part of ACOTA or IMET ;)

    US Air Force Aircraft Identification Chart

    These first two are not new, but I got a chuckle out of them.  Right now I’m working hard on some farming projects, with not much time to write.  The need for this next one is obvious. Click on any of the graphics in this post to see the larger version.

    Journalist's Guide To Firearms Identification

    The following are not intentionally humorous. They come via The Strategist and Information is Beautiful, and come originally from The Guardian DataBlog. The following graphics are by David McCandless.  If you go to the originals at The Guardian DataBlog there is some commentary, but I prefer to present them without commentary.  As someone once said to me when I was trying to get a specific political opinion from them:  patriots may draw their own conclusions.

    Who really spends the most on their armed forces?

    Which country has the biggest military budget per year?

    ——–

    The US military budget in context

    ——–

    GDPs of major nations as combined earnings of US states

    ——–

    Big spenders, yearly military budget as % of GDP

    ——–

    Active forces - who has the most soldiers?

    ——–

    Active forces - the number of soldiers per 100,000 people

    ——–

    Total armed forces - the number of soldiers, reservists, and paramilitary per 100,000 people

    real household consumption in sub-Saharan Africa is growing around 3.3 percent per annum, i.e. more than three times the 0.9 to 1.0 percent reported in international data sources and on par with the growth experienced in other developing countries.

    School children in Bunkpurugu in Northern Ghana 2005, a very cheerful picture, not directly related to the story, but cheerfully upbeat.

    Alwyn Young of the Department of Economics of the London School of Economics published the study The African Growth Miracle PDF in September 2009. As the abstract says:

    Measures of real consumption based upon the ownership of durable goods, the quality of housing, the health and mortality of children, the education of youth and the allocation of female time in the household indicate that sub-Saharan living standards have, for the past two decades, been growing in excess of 3 percent per annum, i.e. more than three times the rate indicated in international data sets.

    Mr. Young has made this survey based on the Demographic and Health Survey (DHS).

    The DHS data on consumption of consumer durables and housing, children’s health and mortality, the schooling of youth and the allocation of women’s time between marriage & childbirth and market activity, indicate that since 1990 real material consumption in sub-Saharan Africa has been rising at a rate more than three times that recorded by international data sources such as the PWT, and on par with the growth taking place in other regions of the world. This is a miraculous achievement, given that the very real ravages of the AIDS epidemic have deprived families of prime working age adults, burdened them with medical and funeral expenses, orphaned their school age children and directly and adversely affected the health of their infants. And yet, the overall health and mortality of children is improving, their school attendance is rising, and family consumption of a variety of material goods is growing at a rapid rate. (p.58)

    As he points out:

    The paucity and poor quality of living standard data for less developed countries is well known and is motivating expanding efforts to improve the quality of information, as represented by the World Bank’s International Comparison Programme and Living Standards Measurement studies. However, there already exists, at the present time, a large body of unexamined current and historical data on living standards in developing countries, collected as part of the Demographic and Health Survey (DHS). For more than two decades this survey has collected information on the ownership of durables, the quality of housing, the health and mortality of children, the education of the youth and the allocation of women’s time in the home and the market in the poorest regions of the world.

    In this paper I use the DHS data to construct estimates of the level, growth rate and inequality of real consumption in 29 sub-Saharan and 27 other developing countries. These estimates have the virtue of being based upon a methodologically consistent source of information for a large sample of poor economies. Rather than attempting to measure total nominal consumption and marry it to independently collected price indices, they employ direct physical measures of real consumption that, by their simplicity and patent obviousness (the ownership of a car or bicycle, the material of a floor, the birth, death or illness of a child), minimize the technical demands of the survey. While the items they cover provide little information on comparative living standards in developed countries, in the poorest regions of the world they are clear indicators of material well being, varying dramatically by socioeconomic status and covering, through durables, health & nutrition and family time, the majority of household expenditure.

    He provides tables, and far more detail as to his methodology and his findings. You can read the entire economic report here, The African Growth Miracle PDF.

    ________

    photocredit here

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