Stories

Eight earlier transformers

To make the case for transformation as growth with depth, we compare Africa’s performance with that of eight earlier transformers: Brazil, Chile, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, and Vietnam. Forty years ago their economies had features that today characterize many African countries—widespread poverty, low productivity, low technology, and limited exports. But they ignited and sustained long periods of high GDP and export growth, economic diversification, technology upgrading, and productivity increases and greatly improved the lives of their people. Today several of them are upper middle- or even high-income countries.

Individual comparators could also be related to individual ACET 15 countries. Brazil and Indonesia—with their large populations, agriculture, and oil—could be related to Nigeria. Brazil, a middle-income country with budding technological prospects, and Korea could point the way for South Africa. Chile, Malaysia, and Thailand could point the way for Ghana, Kenya, and Senegal in agribusiness and in attracting foreign direct investment for manufacturing. Chile, a big copper producer that has also managed to develop agribusiness, could point the way for Zambia, a large copper producer with large tracts of undeveloped agricultural land. And Vietnam, evolving from a statist economic approach to an attractive foreign direct investment destination, could hold lessons for Ethiopia, which has roughly the same population and a government with a fairly heavy hand in the economy

See how Sub-Saharan Africa compares to these eight countries on key indicators.

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