Lessons from Structural Adjustment Programmes and their Effects in Africa

After independence around 1960, African countries started with high hopes for rapid growth and development. Whereas the initial performance was remarkable, economic development slowed in the 1970s and stagnated in the 1980s. In response, the states’ attempts to reinvigorate economic growth through state-led investments and import substitution industrialisation strategies were unsuccessful. The World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and Western donors developed and advocated Structural Adjustment Programmes (SAPs), which emphasised macroeconomic stabilisation, privatisation and free market development. The SAP approach has generated considerable debate within African countries and development circles. While proponents argued that the reforms were essential and without alternatives, critics charged that SAPs paid insufficient attention to the social dimension of development and to the institutional weaknesses of developing countries. The debate continues. This paper discusses the pro and contra arguments of the debate, presents lessons learned, and draws conclusions for future policy priorities.

Brüntrup, Michael
Heidhues, Franz
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Publication Type:
Journal Article
DOI and Other Identifiers:
ISSN 0049-8599 (Other)
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Published in:
Quarterly Journal of International Agriculture, Volume 50, Number 1
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JEL Codes:
D72; E61; N17; O13
Series Statement:
Quarterly Journal of International Agriculture 50 (2011)
1 – Special Issue "Agricultural Policy Processes, a Challenge for Africa's Development"

 Record created 2017-04-01, last modified 2018-01-22

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