A popular myth about the travails of Africa holds that the continent’s long history of poor economic performance reflects the inability of its leaders and policymakers to fulfill the long list of preconditions to be met before sustained growth can be achieved. These conditions are said to vary from the necessary quantity and quality of physical and human capital to the appropriate institutions and business environments. While intellectually charming and often elegantly formulated, that conventional wisdom is actually contradicted by historical evidence and common sense. It also suggests a form of intellectual mimicry that posits a unique path to prosperity for all countries regardless of their level of development and economic structure.
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