Skip to main content

Cookies and Privacy

We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. To find out more, read our updated Cookie policy, Privacy policy and Terms & Conditions

PovertyAfrica_Gates Foundation_Flickr The Gates Foundation/Flickr

East Africa’s Prosperity Gap

East Africa appears to be doing well, with annual economic growth rates averaging around 6% and trade and foreign investment on the rise. But, across the region, the richest are the overwhelming beneficiaries of economic growth, while the poorest are falling further behind.

NAIROBI – In recent years, the narrative of a “rising Africa” has been embraced by some and debunked by others. But all agree on what social engineers call “inclusiveness” – the degree to which members of a society share in its prosperity. With it, say the boosters, Africa will rise. Without it, say the skeptics, it cannot.

Africa’s future really is as simple as that. Without a sense of social contract – a faith in shared progress – economies tend to become unstable and fall apart. “No society that hopes to prosper,” writes the economist Jeffrey Sachs in his book The Price of Civilization, “can afford to leave large parts of its population stuck in the poverty trap.”

Against this background, a new report by the Society for International Development (SID) in Nairobi is a sobering read. Its conclusion: a rising Africa – and in particular a rising East Africa – will never become a reality without economic progress across all sectors of society.

We hope you're enjoying Project Syndicate.

To continue reading, subscribe now.


Get unlimited access to PS premium content, including in-depth commentaries, book reviews, exclusive interviews, On Point, the Big Picture, the PS Archive, and our annual year-ahead magazine.;
  1. op_dervis1_Mikhail SvetlovGetty Images_PutinXiJinpingshakehands Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

    Cronies Everywhere

    Kemal Derviş

    Three recent books demonstrate that there are as many differences between crony-capitalist systems as there are similarities. And while deep-seated corruption is usually associated with autocracies like modern-day Russia, democracies have no reason to assume that they are immune.