Morten Jerven Morten Jerven

New Afrobarometer results further question the ‘Africa rising’ narrative

In Poor Numbers I suggested that many African economies are not growing as fast as the official statistics will have us think, and that we know too little to judge what is happening actually to living standards and poverty in the aggregate. As John Campbell, of the Council 0n Foreign Relations, reports, the latest Afrobarometer results seem to indicate that there is something wrong with the Africa rising narrative (look here for a recent installment which also shows that Poor Numbers can be taken say that Africa is richer than we think). John Campbell also gave a sober account of the African Statistical debate here.

One interesting thing to ponder is that while Nigeria might get new benchmarks for their GDP estimates and pass South Africa, the World Banks still thinks that poverty might be rising in Nigeria.

Meanwhile, Simon Kuper is reminding us that not only is Africa not a country, it is not a place. Simon Kuper even quoted me in his piece:

Morten Jerven, economist at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, told a recent Oxford Analytica conference that instead of asking, “Is Africa rising?” we should be asking things like, “Is Lusaka rising?”

It is a bit of a relief that someone hears that I have been saying that we need to focus on countries and local needs, while I am getting accused left and right of not knowing that Africa is a country. Eh. Not a country.

 

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