Le défi de la transformation structurelle de l’Afrique

PRINCETON – Longtemps considérée comme un cas désespéré au point de vue économique, l'Afrique sub-saharienne est en train de connaitre sa meilleure performance de croissance depuis les premières années post-indépendance. Des bénéfices exceptionnels tirés des ressources naturelles y ont contribué en partie, mais les bonnes nouvelles vont au-delà des simples pays riches en ressources naturelles. Des pays tels que l'Éthiopie, le Rwanda et l'Ouganda, entre autres, ont connu une croissance digne de l'Asie de l'Est depuis le milieu des années 1990. Et les leaders d’entreprises et politiques africains regorgent d'optimisme quant à l'avenir du continent.

La question est de savoir si cette performance peut être maintenue. Jusqu'à présent, la croissance a été tirée par une combinaison de ressources externes (les politiques d’aide et d’allégement de la dette, ou la manne des matières premières) et de la suppression de certaines des pires distorsions politique du passé. La productivité nationale a été stimulée par une augmentation de la demande pour les biens et les services domestiques (surtout les services) et une utilisation plus efficace des ressources. Le problème est qu’il n’est pas évident de voir quelle pourrait être l’origine d’éventuels gains de productivité futurs.

Le problème sous-jacent est la faiblesse de la transformation structurelle de ces économies. Les pays de l'Asie de l'Est ont connu une croissance rapide en reproduisant, dans un laps de temps beaucoup plus court, l’expérience des pays avancés d'aujourd'hui suite à la révolution industrielle. Ils ont transformé leurs agriculteurs en ouvriers de fabrication, ont diversifié leurs économies et exporté une gamme de produits de plus en plus sophistiqués.

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