Prospects for Recovery and Sustainable Development in Africa

By Aguibou Y. Yansané | Go to book overview

COMMENTS OF DISCUSSANTS

YUSEF GUTEMA

I am going to try to bring the whole thing together and address, in a general way, what essentially all of the authors have presented. They say that structural adjustment is very difficult. In other words, it is very painful, as was pointed out in some of the addresses when some of the figures were given. What happened to per capita consumption, what happened to investment, and so on? For example, one way economists measure the standard of living is by looking at consumption. If you look at per capita consumption in African countries in the 1980s, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa, it fell by one sixth. Of course, the thing to observe is that, per capita income also fell roughly by the same amount. So, the point here is that there has been a reduction in the standard of living in the adjustment that took place in the global economy; it had severe impacts on the economies of Africa. Many of those who presented papers noticed the same deterioration in standards of living, even though they were not explicit. I do not want to put words in their mouths, but my understanding at least of their words was that, one has to approach these problems very carefully, because we are dealing with a special type of situation here. Basically, the point is that there is a need for one to be very careful especially in dealing with structural adjustment. I was reminded of an article written by Dennis Goulet and Charles Wilbur in which they talk about the human costs of economic development. Even though the authors do not exactly write about the things that these two authors talked about, the questions that they ask are: Should economic development proceed with these human costs that our speakers are talking about? Is that how structural adjustment should proceed? It all boils down essentially to the same two questions. Of course, what Goulet and Wilbur also reluctantly conclude is

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