Have Imports Constrained Economic Growth in Sub-Saharan Africa?

  • Lodewijk Berlage
  • Sophie Vandermeulen


During the period 1961–1973 gross domestic product (GDP) of Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) grew at an average annual rate of 4.6%. Between 1973 and 1980 the annual growth rate fell to an average of 2.7%. In the eighties there was a further slow-down: the average annual growth rate was only 2% (2.5% if Nigeria is excluded) whereas population increased at an annual rate of 3.1%; per capita income therefore declined.2 When trying to explain the deteriorating economic performance of SSA, one can distinguish between fundamental and immediate causes. Among the former are the political structure of pre-colonial African societies, the colonial heritage and the nature of contemporaneous African states (Cockcroft, 1990). Among the immediate causes of the deterioration are the unfavourable external environment, the loss of SSA’s share in world markets, the debt burden, government deficits, overregulation of economic activity and the ensuing disincentives for the private sector, in particular for agriculture.3


Gross Domestic Product Capital Stock Foreign Exchange Intermediate Good Ivory Coast 
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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lodewijk Berlage
  • Sophie Vandermeulen

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