Interrogating the contentious concept of growth: Are we asking the right questions? An analysis of two fast-growing African economies Liam Fox University of Toronto Outline I. ‘Growth’ and ‘Development’ II. The missing piece: Political histories and colonial legacies III. Concluding remarks: Is uneven development better than no development? The ‘Afro-Optimists’ “Richer than most [African] countries, carefully groomed for independence, with trained cadres exceeding those of far larger countries, without racial minority problems, having inherited a good and expanding educational system, Ghana is regarded as having the resources, manpower and moral and spiritual qualities to set the pace and tone of political development in all Africa” (Apter 1972:337). The ‘Afro-Pessimists’ Pessimists: • Dependency-underdevelopment school – World Systems Theory (Immanuel Wallerstein) – Dependency Theory (Latin American Structuralist and American Marxist schools) • Neoliberal school (e.g., Anne Krueger) A return of growth optimism? • Rwanda: – 2001-2013 +8.1% GDP – 2001-2011 -14% poverty rate – Inequality (Gini) from 0.52 (2005) to 0.49 (2011) • Ghana: – “Stable and mature” democracy for 20 years – 50th-60th percentile World Wide Governance rating (2012) – +5.5% GDP growth (2013) Source: http://www.worldbank.org/en/country/ A return of growth optimism? Real GDP growth rates (2012) • Ghana: +6% • Rwanda: +8.8% Human Development Index (HDI, 2011) • Ghana: 0.558 (135th globally) • Rwanda: 0.434 (167th globally) Source: UNDP (2011) Neoliberal Development • Richard Sandbrook: market liberalization as “pragmatic neoliberalism” (2000:1079). • “…to abstract these attractive features from power relations by focusing on individual actors, as Sen does, offers a false promise to the poor and excluded” (2000:1079). Political histories and colonial legacies Ghana • Early independence and Nkrumah; ensuing long-lasting political turmoil • Structural adjustment and the return of (some) stability • ‘Poster-child’ of the SAP? • Arbitrary, ill-fitting colonial institutions (Englebert 2000) • British indirect rule and fragile institutions (Acemoglu 2001) Rwanda • Ethnic conflicts precipitated by colonial institutions (ethnic divisions: e.g., identity cards) • Rwandan renaissance, or ‘growth at any cost’? What is to be done? Persistent issues • Development: the Amartya Sen approach (liberalism) • Development and the HDI? • “Kicking away the ladder” (Chang 2002) • Proposition: BWIs not “the social actors likely to advance the empowerment of the poor” (Ferguson 1994:181) • Foucault: Change comes only “when critique has been played out in the real, not when reformers have realized their ideas” (1981:13). Concluding remarks: is uneven growth better than no growth at all?