El continente perdido


LONDRES – Hogar de una sexta parte de la población mundial, aunque sólo aporta una cuadragésima parte del PBI mundial, África es la víctima más evidente de la recesión global. Después de media década de crecimiento del 5%, se espera que la tasa de crecimiento del continente se reduzca a la mitad en 2009. Algunos países, como Angola, se están contrayendo. En otras partes, la crisis barrió con los beneficios de varios años de reforma económica. Muchos africanos volverán a caer en una pobreza apremiante.

Los economistas del desarrollo se retuercen las manos de desesperación: África desafía sus mejores esfuerzos para crear un milagro. En la víspera de la descolonización en 1960, el PBI real per capita en el África subsahariana era casi tres veces superior al del sudeste asiático, y se esperaba que los africanos vivieran dos años más en promedio. En los 50 años que transcurrieron desde entonces, el PBI real de África per capita creció el 38% y la gente vivió nueve años más, mientras que el PBI del sudeste asiático per capita creció el 1.000% y la gente vivió 32 años más.

Al principio, la solución para el subdesarrollo del África parecía obvia. África necesitaba capital, pero carecía de ahorros. Por lo tanto, el dinero tenía que venir de afuera -de instituciones como el Banco Mundial-. Dado que cobrarle tasas de interés comerciales a gente hambrienta parecía una usura, los créditos debían ofrecerse con un carácter concesionario -de hecho, ayuda.

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