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Home arrow Economics arrow Accelerated Economic Growth in West Africa
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1 Introduction

Everywhere, economists and policy makers, as well as almost everyone involved in development, are calling for more growth as the best recipe to world's problems of poverty, famine and many other social and economic malaises. In the case of West Africa, growth is even more alluring, now that authorities of the International Monetary Fund, IMF, and the World Bank, among others, have pronounced Africa as the new growth pole of the world (NewsfromAfrica 2012; ECA 2011). Everywhere, also, governments and civil society groups are redoubling their efforts and the resources devoted to economic growth. It is like economic growth is being posited as an end by itself. The efficacy in pursuing economic growth as a panacea to Africa's myriad of problems of unemployment, insecurity, violence, and yes, indeed, bad governance, is bolstered, in part, by a third party affirmation of Africa's potential resurgence as a pole of reckoning. For instance, Pascal Lamy, the chieftain at the World Trade Organization, WTO, recently dropped this representative line, of world's disposition to a new Africa:

The old theories governing the way that countries produce and trade are being replaced. The pattern of trade is being transformed by increasingly sophisticated technology and innovations in transportation; and the topography of actors is shifting to reflect new poles of growth. This is no longer the clearly delineated North-South order of the 20th century. .. .. And Africa, both as a continent and as the sum of individual sovereign states, is poised to lead the new patterns of growth for the foreseeable future. Six of the world's ten fastestgrowing economies over the past decade were in sub-Saharan Africa. Five years into the global financial crisis, Africa as a region has shown great resilience, with an average growth rate of over five percent over the last decade. This is in contrast with the advanced economies, most of which are yet to fully recover from the economic downturn (Lamy, P., In Omosegbon and Okeke 2014, p. 121)

While there is much to commend in growing economies, this paper revisits the historical oddity of growth, first rigorously documented for Liberia by Clower et al. (1966), in which economic growth not accompanied by development was seen as the bane of transforming shifting cultivation and commercial farming in Liberia. That environment was eerily similar to the one West Africans, including, Liberians, are facing today. For the whole of the 1950s and much of the first half of the 1960s, Liberia was the fastest growing economy in the world, faster than the new economic powerhouse of Japan (Lowenkopf 1967). Since the path breaking findings of Clower and his colleagues at Northwestern University, many generations of economists, planning professionals and their students have developed that concern along the line of whether economic growth leads to more capacity building, a fairer income distribution and to structural changes. Current effort looks at this erstwhile breakdown in the nexus between growth and development by attempting to encapsulate this oddity in the form of the breakdown of the relationship between freedom and its constitutive values from economic growth and development.

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