Africa is now on its way out of poverty

All low-income countries have the potential for dynamic economic growth. We know this because we have seen it happen repeatedly: a poor, agrarian economy transforms itself into a middle or even high income urban economy in one or two generations. The key is to capture the window of opportunity for industrialisation arising from the relocation of light manufacturing from higher-income countries.

That was true in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and it remains true today. Japan seized its opportunity in the years following World War II, using labour-intensive industries, such as textiles and simple electronics, to drive its economy until rising labour costs eroded its comparative advantage in those sectors. That shift then allowed other low-income Asian economies — South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, and to some extent Malaysia and Thailand — to follow in Japan's footsteps.

China, of course, is the region's most recent traveller along this well-trodden path....

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