Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Can Africa Prosper? 'Third World' Once Meant 'Mired in Poverty.' Parts of Asia and Latin America Left That Behind. So Can Africa

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Can Africa Prosper? 'Third World' Once Meant 'Mired in Poverty.' Parts of Asia and Latin America Left That Behind. So Can Africa

Article excerpt

With the discrediting of communism as a route to prosperity, the world turned to variants of the democratic, competitive, private enterprise economy.

Thatcherism/Reaganism spread. Then it got turned out of office in favor of Clinton/Blairism. The Asian Tigers and the ABC nations of South America (Argentina, Brazil, Chile) adopted the bureaucracy-cleansing message of Thatcherism. Now, those areas of the old third world may follow the first world's lead and institutionalize free-market democracy as the credo of both sides of their political spectrums.

Already they have gone a long way toward making the "third-world bloc" obsolete. But that historic change will not be complete until the 43 principal nations of sub-Saharan Africa join the march out of poverty, boss rule, and entrenched bureaucracies. On that subject, there's good news and worrisome news. First, the good news: Economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa has averaged about 4 percent in the past two years, some 2 percent better than in the previous decade. That means that production is outstripping population growth, a prerequisite for prosperity. Then the bad news: Most of these nations have seen their economies shrink in the quarter century since the 1973 oil shock. So today's growth builds on a shrunken base. President Clinton's current trip through Africa points up another problem. He is avoiding Nigeria, Zaire, Zimbabwe, and Angola - states that in the past were praised as resource-rich engines capable of pulling their neighbors into faster growth. As one analyst noted, those nations - with their stores of oil, copper, diamonds, and rich soil - give "potential" a bad name. Instead of leading Africa toward democratic prosperity they are variously mired in autocratic rule, the aftermath of civil war, and corruption. …

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