- Dec 2009
We are talking here just about the sub-saharan nations, i.e. excluding the five nations of north Africa bordering the Mediterranean.
Of the fifty sovereign sub-saharan nations depicted here (plus the undepicted Somaliland, still of limited recognition) only three (Ethiopia, Lesotho & Swaziland) existed previous to the European conquest (or in the case of Liberia, American colonization).
Virtually all their current borders (even for the aforementioned three cases) are largely a colonial legacy.
These borders fundamentally come from the delimitation of the mutual speheres on conquest of the diverse European powers.
More often than not, the myriad local ethnicities became fragmentated by such political division.
Plainly, a level of Balkanization far greater than anything ever attested by the Balkans themselves.
This lack of coherence between national and ethnic norders has been one of the most pernicious (and as can be seen above, pervasive) legacies of the colonial administration, in spite of having ended largely some half a century ago.
Here is a seminal paper that analyses in some detail this critical phenomenon: Easterly, W. and R. Levine (1997). Africa’s Growth Tragedy: Policies and Ethnic Divisions. Quarterly Journal of Economics 112(4): 1203-1250.
IMHO reading this paper is a must for any people interested in the current complex problems of modern sub-saharian Africa.
Please comment.Explaining cross-country differences in growth rates requires not only an understanding of the link between growth and public policies, but also an understanding of why countries choose different public policies.
This paper shows that ethnic diversity helps explain crosscountry differences in public policies, political stability, and other economic indicators.
In the case of Sub-Saharan Africa, economic growth is associated with low schooling, political instability, underdeveloped financial systems, distorted foreign exchange markets, high government deficits, and insufficient infrastructure.
Africa’s high ethnic fragmentation explains a significant part of most of these characteristics.
As usual, any imput would be highly welcomed.
Thanks in advance