The report of the Commission for Africa, summarised here and more heavily here, is an ambitious and sophisticated analysis of the problems plaguing Africa and the steps needed to solve them. But it isn’t without critics. Last time, I looked at those who criticised the Commission for being too conservative in its calls for Western action and in its criticisms of the role of rich countries and corporations in Africa. This time, let’s look at the other side: those who criticise the report for going too far in those same directions. You could call this the “right-wing” criticism, because its central point is that the Commission doesn’t put enough faith in markets. This is the view of a large number mainstream economists. (more…)


The Commission for Africa was a collection of African and non-African politicians, academics and activists, appointed in 2005 by Tony Blair to put forward proposals for policies to kick-start African development. Their report was released in early 2005; as well as the 464-page full report, there’s a reduced “The Argument” version which is also available in book form. If you’re really in a hurry, there’s a six-page executive summary.

We’ve previously run through the Report, and each heading below will take you to the relevant post. Aren’t I just too nice?

So here’s a very quick run-down of the headline points: (more…)

Over the last few weeks, we’ve looked over the recommendations of the Commission for Africa on governance, peace building, trade, social policy and aid. In the final chapter of their report, the Commission outlines the other, wider changes to the process of international governance, and the attitudes of rich-country governments, that are needed to “make it happen.” (more…)

The Commission for Africa Report doesn’t do itself any favours by calling its eighth chapter “Leaving No-one Out: Investing in People.” To anyone who’s worked at an organisation undergoing the personnel policy inspection of the same name, this just conjures up images of council busybodys measuring steps against wheelchair access standards. Mercifully, the chapter is dedicated to a slightly more urgent matter: ensuring the economic growth painstakingly planned out in the preceding chapters benefits the poor. (more…)

African trade beadsThe discussion of how economic growth can help Africans out of poverty has often become a row between those who focus on the steps Africans and their governments can take to improve growth rates, and those who focus on the steps rich countries must take. As we saw last time, the Report of the Commission for Africa has much to say about the steps African countries can take to improve their economic performance. However, it has plenty to say about what rich countries must do too. (more…)

Criticisms of Africa’s governance have long been a staple of many of the voices opposed to aid and debt relief. Africa, they say, is poor because it’s mismanaged. We shouldn’t throw any more good money after bad until they improve. So it’s interesting that the Report of the Commission for Africa, rather than simply leaping to the defence of African governments, acknowledges many of the problems. (more…)